Systematic review: pharmacotherapy for high-output enterostomies or enteral fistulas

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2017 Aug;46(3):266-273. doi: 10.1111/apt.14136. Epub 2017 Jun 14.


Background: High-output enterocutaneous fistula or enterostomies can cause intestinal failure. There is a wide variety of options in medical management of patients with high output.

Aim: To systematically review the literature on available pharmacotherapy to reduce output and to propose an algorithm for standard of care.

Methods: Relevant databases were systematically reviewed to identify studies on pharmacotherapy for reduction in (high-) output enterostomies or fistula. Randomised controlled trials and within subjects controlled prospective trials were included. An algorithm for standard of care was generated based on the outcomes of the systematic review.

Results: Two studies on proton pump inhibitors, six on anti-motility agents, three on histamine receptor antagonists, one on an α2- receptor agonist and eight on somatostatin (analogues) were included. One study examined a proton pump inhibitor and a histamine receptor antagonist within the same patients. Overall, we found evidence for the following medical therapies to be effective: omeprazole, loperamide and codeine, ranitidine and cimetidine. On the basis of these outcomes and clinical experience, we proposed an algorithm for standard of care which consists of high-dose proton pump inhibitors combined with high-dose loperamide as the first step followed by addition of codeine in case of insufficient output reduction. So far, there is insufficient evidence for the standard use of somatostatin (analogues).

Conclusions: The available evidence on the efficacy of medication to reduce enterostomy or enterocutaneous fistula output is hampered by low quality studies. We propose an algorithm for standard of care output reduction in these patients.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Enterostomy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Omeprazole / therapeutic use
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Ranitidine / administration & dosage
  • Somatostatin / administration & dosage
  • Somatostatin / analogs & derivatives*


  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Somatostatin
  • Ranitidine
  • Omeprazole