Background & aims: Current studies lack appropriate data on aspirin and other risk factors for gastrointestinal perforation. The aim of this study was to obtain the best estimate on aspirin and nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use in these patients.
Methods: In 76 consecutive patients with gastrointestinal perforation and 152 matched controls, a detailed clinical history supplemented with an objective test of current aspirin use (platelet cyclooxygenase activity) was obtained.
Results: Of the 76 cases, 78.9% were upper and 21% lower gastrointestinal perforations. Evidence of NSAID use was found in 71% of cases (70% upper, 75% lower) vs. 26.9% of controls (odds ratio, 6.64; 95% confidence interval, 3.6-12.2; P < 0.0001). The objective test showed 12.7% more aspirin users than clinical history alone. NSAID use was aspirin (alone or combined) in 66.6% of cases, and 59.25% was nonprescription. Other independent risk factors were smoking, alcohol, and a history of arthritis or peptic ulcer but not a positive Helicobacter pylori serology. Age, but not NSAID use, affected perforation-associated mortality.
Conclusions: NSAID use is strongly associated with an increased risk of both upper and lower gastrointestinal perforation. The high prevalence of aspirin (over-the-counter) use suggests that future introduction of new NSAIDs may not have a major impact on decreasing gastrointestinal complications if other measures are not taken. Concomitant NSAID use, smoking, and alcohol use is a pervasive association.