In order to evaluate the effect of somatostatin in the treatment of massive upper gastrointestinal bleeding a randomised double blind trial of 95 patients has been undertaken during a 28 months period. Patients with oesophageal varices have been excluded as well as patients with diabetes. All patients were endoscoped within eight hours of admission to the hospital, whereupon the source of bleeding and types of stigmata were assessed. Forty six patients, chosen at random, were given a 72 hour infusion of somatostatin, while the remaining 49 patients received infusion of placebo. The two groups were well matched for sex, age, and source of bleeding. On the day after admission, an additional endoscopy was performed at which eight patients in the somatostatin group and 16 in the placebo group were found to have a persistent bleeding. A total of five patients in the somatostatin group and 14 in the placebo group underwent surgery (Fisher's exact test, 2-tail, p = 0.04). Rebleeding occurred in six patients in the somatostatin group, of whom five experienced rebleeding after completion of the somatostatin treatment. In the placebo group, rebleeding occurred in five patients, of whom four rebled on the day after admission. The need for blood transfusions and the mortality rate did not differ significantly between the two groups. No toxic side effects were found as a result of the infusion of somatostatin. In this study, somatostatin reduced the number of patients needing surgery with massive upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
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