Research Article

Emergency arteriography in acute gastrointestinal bleeding.

Br Med J 1976; 1 doi: (Published 17 April 1976) Cite this as: Br Med J 1976;1:929
  1. J D Irving,
  2. T C Northfield


    Emergency arteriography was carried out on 35 patients with acute gastrointestinal bleeding, in 31 of them within two hours of active bleeding (a haematemisis; a diagnostic change in central venous pressure, pulse rate, or blood pressure; or gastric aspiration of fresh blood). A definite site of bleeding was identified in 27 patients (77%)-this being a small-intestinal vascular abnormality in three--and a probable site in three. Confirmation of the bleeding site was obtained in 20 out of 23 patients treated surgically. An intra-arterial vasoconstrictor infusion was given as a temporary measure before surgery in seven patients, only one of whom showed active bleeding at operation. An intra-arterial vasoconstrictor infusion was tried as definitive treatment in an additional 10 patients, but in four out of seven with a chronic ulcer bleeding recurred after 5-68 hours and was therefore treated surgically. We recommend the diagnostic use of arteriography in patients with reliable evidence of active bleeding if its site cannot be determined by endoscopy. We do not recommend its therapeutic use in those with a chronic ulcer, except to facilitate resuscitation before surgery; further studies are needed to define its role in those with an acute lesion.