- I Caruso,
- G Bianchi Porro
Gastroscopy was performed in 164 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and 85 with osteoarthritis (OA) to assess the effects of anti-inflammatory agents on the stomach. The main criterion for entry into the trial was the absence of active gastric lesions on pretreatment endoscopy. The patients were divided into groups to receive one of 12 anti-inflammatory drugs or combinations of these. Gastroscopy repeated at three to six and at 12 months disclosed gastric lesions in 78 cases (31%), patients in both disease categories being similarly affected. Lesions occurred in 41 of the 177 patients (23%) receiving a single drug and in 37 of the 72 (51%) receiving combined treatment. All the anti-inflammatory drugs caused gastric damage, the greatest offender being aspirin (13 out of 26 patients) and the least sulindac and diflunisal (two out of 19 (11%) and two out of 20 (10%) patients respectively). Corticosteroids caused gastric damage in only three out of 21 patients (14%), a lower incidence than expected.
The indiscriminate prescribing of anti-inflammatory drugs to patients with OA is to be deplored. A lack of correlation between the patients' subjective complaints of gastric discomfort and the gastroscopic findings emphasises the unreliability of patients' complaints and the importance of gastroscopy in assessing gastric tolerance. It was not possible to assess minimal prescribing doses or minimum periods of treatment below which gastric damage may be guaranteed not to occur.
↵* Presented in part at the International Congress of Inflammation, Bologna, 31 October-5 November 1978.