An endoscopic technique for the measurement of gastric mucosal bleeding time has been developed to study gastric haemostasis in patients with acute upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage. The relation of gastric mucosal bleeding time to skin bleeding time and nonsterodial anti-inflammatory drug usage was examined in 61 control patients and in 47 patients presenting with bleeding peptic ulcers or erosions. Gastric mucosal bleeding time was shorter in patients with haemorrhage (median 2 minutes, range 0-5 minutes) than in the control group (median 4 minutes, range 2-8 minutes) (p less than 0.001). Skin bleeding times were similar in the two groups (medians 4 minutes in patients with haemorrhage and 4.5 minutes in controls). In 21 patients with haemorrhage who were taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the median gastric mucosal bleeding time (2.5 minutes, range 1.0-5.0 minutes) was similar to that in 26 patients with haemorrhage not associated with these drugs (2.0 minutes, range 0.0-5.0 minutes). These results show that gastric mucosal haemostasis is accelerated in response to haemorrhage in the upper gastrointestinal tract, even in patients taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This enhanced gastric haemostasis probably reflects a local protective response to minimise blood loss from the bleeding lesion.
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