The management of perforated gastric ulcers

Matthew Fraser Leeman, Christos Skouras, Simon Paterson-Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Perforated gastric ulcers are potentially complicated surgical emergencies and appropriate early management is essential in order to avoid subsequent problems including unnecessary gastrectomy. The aim of this study was to examine the management and outcome of patients with gastric ulcer perforation undergoing emergency laparotomy for peritonitis.

METHODS: Patients undergoing laparotomy at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for perforated gastric ulcers were identified from the prospectively maintained Lothian Surgical Audit (LSA) database over the five-year period 2007-2011. Additional data were obtained by review of electronic records and review of case notes.

RESULTS: Forty-four patients (25 male, 19 female) were identified. Procedures performed were: 41 omental patch repairs (91%), 2 simple closures (4.5%) and 2 distal gastrectomies (4.5%; both for large perforations). Four perforated gastric tumours were identified (8.8%), 2 of which were suspected intra-operatively and confirmed histologically, 1 had unexpected positive histology and 1 had negative intra-operative histology, but follow-up endoscopy confirmed the presence of carcinoma (1 positive biopsy in 21 follow-up endoscopies); all 4 were managed without initial resection. Median length of stay was 10 days (range 4-68). Overall 7 patients died in hospital (15.9%) and there were 21 morbidities (54.5%). Registrars performed the majority of the procedures (16 alone, 21 supervised) with no significant difference in post-operative morbidity (P = 0.098) or mortality (P = 0.855), compared to consultants.

CONCLUSION: Almost all 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-4
Number of pages3
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peptic Ulcer Perforation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stomach Ulcer


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