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Bleeding from a peptic ulcer is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, particularly in the elderly. The results of a management policy of early endoscopy and close monitoring of patients were prospectively evaluated to assess whether major stigmata of recent haemorrhage (SRH) helped to identify patients who were likely to rebleed. Early endoscopy allowed the diagnosis of the most likely site of haemorrhage in 94% of the 190 patients. The nature and site of SRH (visible vessel, fresh clot, red or black spot) was recorded. Ninety‐three of 167 patients in whom the presence or absence of SRH were recorded, had major SRH (visible vessel, fresh clot) and 51 % of these patients rebled while only 10 of 74 (14%) patients without major SRH rebled. Overall, 80% of those with further haemorrhage had major SRH. Operation was performed on 28% of patients and the main indication for operation was further haemorrhage. Major morbidity in the surgical patients was strongly correlated with vascular instability at the time of further haemorrhage. Significant morbidity occurred in 16 of 28 patients (57%) with vascular instability, compared with only 1 of 18 patients (6%) without vascular instability (P < 0.001). The overall low mortality of 5.3% was attributed to an approach of joint medical and surgical management with early operation for further haemorrhage. Although major SRH identified a group of patients most likely to suffer further haemomhage, the positive predictive value of major SRH was only 51%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-193
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • duodenal ulcer
  • gastric ulcer
  • haematemesis and melaena
  • stigmata of recent haemorrhage


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