Background: Rebleeding following epinephrine injection of bleeding peptic ulcers occurs in 10% to 20% of all cases. The addition of a sclerosant has the theoretical advantage of inducing vessel thrombosis and permanent hemostasis.
Methods: A prospective randomized controlled trial was conducted to compare injections with epinephrine alone or epinephrine plus absolute alcohol in patients with actively bleeding ulcers at endoscopy. Repeat endoscopy was performed 24 hours later; treatment was repeated in the presence of endoscopic signs of rebleeding. Surgery was performed when arterial bleeding could not be controlled endoscopically, clinical rebleeding with hematemesis or shock occurred, or the transfusion total exceeded 8 units.
Results: One hundred sixty patients were enrolled (epinephrine alone, 81; epinephrine and absolute alcohol, 79). They were matched in age, sex, location of ulcers, hemoglobin on admission, shock, and severity of bleeding. Initial hemostasis was comparable: 79 of 81 with epinephrine alone (97.5%) versus 75 of 79 with epinephrine and absolute alcohol (94.9%). No difference was observed between the two with respect to either rebleeding (9 vs 6), need for emergency operation (12 vs 9), transfusion requirement (median, three units vs two units), hospital stay (median, 5 days vs 4 days), mortality (4 vs 7) and ulcer healing at 4 weeks (50 vs 46).
Conclusions: The additional injection of absolute alcohol after endoscopic epinephrine injection confers no advantage.