Introduction Perforated gastric ulcers are potentially complicated surgical emergencies. Appropriate early management is essential to avoid subsequent problems including the detection of underlying malignancy. Our aim was to examine the management and outcome of patients with gastric perforations undergoing emergency laparotomy for peritonitis.
Methods Patients undergoing laparotomy in the department of General Surgery for perforated gastric ulcers were identified from the prospectively maintained Lothian Surgical Audit (LSA) database over the 5-year period 2007–2011. Additional data were obtained by review of electronic records and the endoscopy reporting system (UNISOFT), in addition to reference with the South East Scotland oesophagogastric Cancer Network (SCAN) database and the histopathology laboratory Database (APEX).
Results 45 patients were identified. The procedures performed were: 41 omental patch repairs (91%), two simple closures (4%) and two distal gastrectomies (4%—both for large perforations). There were four perforated gastric tumours (4%), of which two were suspected intra-operatively and confirmed histologically, one had unexpected positive histology and one had negative histology, but follow-up endoscopy confirmed carcinoma; all four were managed without resection at initial laparotomy. One of these patients underwent subsequent resection for cancer after full staging and optimisation but subsequently developed tumour recurrence and died. Median length of stay was 8 days (range 4–68). The overall inpatient mortality was 15% and there were 20 morbidities (44%; including nine respiratory complications, four wound infections and two myocardial infarctions). 33 patients had biopsies taken during surgery. Two of the remaining 12 patients had biopsies taken during postoperative endoscopy. None of the remaining 10 patients were subsequently referred with cancer. Seventeen patients in total underwent a follow-up postoperative endoscopy and 11 of them had biopsies taken.
Conclusion The majority of perforated gastric ulcers can be effectively managed by laparotomy and omental patch repair. Initial biopsy and follow-up endoscopy with repeat biopsy is essential to avoid missing an underlying malignancy.
Competing interests None declared.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.