UMEM Educational Pearls - Gastrointestional


Bottom Line:

  1. The most often cited meta-analysis regarding route of PPI use in bleeding peptic ulcer disease evaluates rebleeding AFTER endoscopic treatment and only ulcers with high-risk features.  There is no good data on optimal pre-endoscopy dosing.
  2. These studies appear to show non-inferiority of intermittent dosing with a trend towards superiority when compared with continuous dosing.
  3. The proper dosing, frequency, and route of intermittent PPI use is widely variable without good data on an optimal regimen.
  4. ED decision of intermittent vs continuous PPI should consider other patient factors including severity of illness, compatibility of IV lines (pantoprazole is often incompatible), and patient disposition.



Show More In-Depth Information

Show References

Infectious Diarrhea:

Have your wondered what you should do with patients that you suspect have infectious diarrhea. Well the IDSA has updated their 2001 guidelines for the management of infectious diarrhea. The TAKE HOME Points are:

  • Most patients with diarrhea do not need to be tested for an infectious cause. Stop ordering those cultures.
  • Testing IS recommended in the folllowing populations:
    • Patients younger than 5 years
    • Elderly
    • Patients that are immunocompromised
    • Patients with bloody diarrhea
    • Patients with severe abdominal pain or tenderness, or have signs of sepsis.
    • Testing may be considered for C. difficile in people >2 years of age who have a history of diarrhea following antimicrobial use and in people with healthcare-associated diarrhea
  • Some additional recommendations that are noteworthy:
    • Fecal leukocyte examination and stool lactoferrin detection should NOT be used to establish the cause of acute infectious diarrhea
    • A peripheral white blood cell count and differential and serologic assays should NOT be performed to establish an etiology of diarrhea
    • Reduced osmolarity oral rehydration solution (ORS) is recommended as the first-line therapy of mild to moderate dehydration in infants, children, and adults with acute diarrhea from any cause


You can find all the recommendations at



Show References


Take Home Point: In patients with diabetic gastroparesis, haloperidol may be an effective adjunctive treatment to prevent hospitalizations and reduce opioid requirements. 

Show More In-Depth Information

Show References

Category: Gastrointestional

Title: Diverticular Bleeding

Keywords: Diverticular, bleeding, gastrointestinal (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/3/2010 by Michael Bond, MD
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Diverticular Bleeding

  • Diverticular bleeding is the  most common source of lower GI bleeds and accounts for 17 to 40 percent of cases
  • The most common presentation (80%) is massive painless rectal bleeding. 
  • Patients may have some cramping prior to a bloody bowel movement but otherwise will typically have no abdominal pain.
  • The majority of the cases will resolve spontaneously, but those requiring more than 4 units of Packed Red Blood Cells should be considered for an angiogram or  surgery.
  • Angiography can be used to localize the site of bleeding and embolize the bleeding source. 
  • If embolization fails the patient may require a partial colectomy to treat the bleeding source.

Show References

Category: Gastrointestional

Title: Complications of Liver Biopsy

Posted: 3/22/2010 by Rob Rogers, MD (Updated: 8/17/2022)
Click here to contact Rob Rogers, MD

Complications of Liver Biopsy

Some considerations for the patient who presents with pain after a liver biopsy:

  • Hemothorax
  • Pneumothorax
  • Biopsy of other organ
  • Hemorrhage (subcapsular hematoma, intraperitoneal bleeding, hemobilia)
  • AV Fistula

Consider getting a chest xray and a RUQ ultrasound to evaluate for these complications if they show up in the ED. CT scanning might also be required.

Also consider getting Interventional Radiology  involved early in cases of bleeding as this is often the preferred treatment for biopsy site bleeding. In addition, a surgical consult is wise

in case the patient requires operative intervention. 

Category: Gastrointestional

Title: PEG Tubes

Keywords: PEG Tubes (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/3/2009 by Michael Bond, MD
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

I am sure everybody has received a patient from a nursing home that had a malfunctioning PEG tube.  Now if they would only crush the tablets before putting them down the tube, or better yet use liquid medications our life would be easier.

But what do you do if it is Friday and the GI lab is not open to Monday.  The answer is that you can remove the PEG and replace it with another PEG tube or even a foley catheter will do for the weekend.  The original PEG tube has a semi-rigid plastic ring (as shown in photo) and does not have a balloon that can be default.  You can pull these out by placing counter traction on the abdominal wall and pulling with steady firm pressure.  This may take a little more force than you are initially comfortable with.

Please see the attached photo of a PEG tube, and remember the other option is to admit these patients for IV fluids until the GI lab opens.

Show References

Category: Gastrointestional

Title: Biliary Colic and Narcotics

Keywords: HIDA, narcotics, biliary colic (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/30/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 8/17/2022)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Biliary Colic and Narcotics:

It is common to give patients with biliary colic narcotics inorder to relieve their pain.  It was common teaching in the past that Morphine should be avoided due to the fact that it could cause spasm of the spincter of Oddi.  It is now known that all narcotics, even meperidine, can cause spasm or irritation of the spincter of Oddi.

So this weeks pearls are:

  1. Morphine and diluadid can be used to relieve the pain associated with biliary colic.
  2. However, narcotics should be avoided at least 4 hours prior to a HIDA scan as it can affect the length of the exam and the sensitivity of it.  A HIDA scan can take up to four hours to perform, however, morphine is typically given during the test as it can shorten the exam time to 1.5 hours by increasing filling of the gallbladder through the cystic duct. 


Category: Gastrointestional

Title: Pancreatitis

Keywords: Pancreatitis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/12/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 8/17/2022)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Some simple facts about Pancreatitis:

  1. Causes (First two are the most common in the United States)
    1. Gallstones
    2. Alcohol
    3. Hyperlipidemia
    4. Medications [azathioprine, corticosteroids, sulfonamides, thiazides, furosemides, NSAIDs, mercaptopurine, methyldopa, and tetracyclines]
    5. Peptic Ulcer Disease
    6. Scorpion and Snake Bites
    7. Trauma
    8. Infections [ ascaris, mumps, coxsackie virus, cytomegalovirus, Epstein Barr Virus, mycoplasma]
  2. Chronic Pancreatitis may not be associated with an elevation of lipase or amylase.
  3. Lipase is more specific for pancreatitis
  4. Amylase can be elevated in:
    1. pancreatitits
    2. salivary gland injury/disease
    3. ruptured ectopic pregnancy
    4. ovarian cysts
    5. salpingitis
    6. inflammation of the bowel [appendicitis, obstruction]
    7. end stage renal and liver disease [due to decreased clearance]
  5. Treatment:  mild cases can be discharged home with clear liquid diet and pain medications, more severe cases needed to be admitted for IV fluids and pain control.  Maintain NPO status.
  6. Complications:
    1. Pseudocyst
    2. Phlegmon
    3. Necrosis of the pancreas
    4. Hemorrhage
    5. Intestional obstruction
    6. fistula formation.

Category: Gastrointestional

Title: Suspected Variceal Bleed

Keywords: Variceal Bleed (PubMed Search)

Posted: 3/11/2008 by Rob Rogers, MD (Updated: 8/17/2022)
Click here to contact Rob Rogers, MD

 Medical Regimen for Suspected Variceal Bleed

To review what Dr. Bond and Dr. Winters have already posted:

Three medical therapies have been shown to be effective in patients with severe upper GI bleed thought to be due to esophageal varices:

  • Octreatide: 50-100 ug bolus followed by 50 ug/hour. Has been shown to lower the rebleeding rate substantially. Even if varices have not been confirmed by endoscopy, Octreatide has also been shown to be effective in ulcer bleeding as well.
  • Antibiotics (3rd generation Cephalosporin): Have been to lower the rebleeding rate in variceal bleeding. 
  • Intravenous Proton Pump Inhibitor: Remember that a liver patient is as likely to have a non-variceal source of bleeding (ulcer), so add a PPI drip. Raising the pH stabilizes clot. Without endoscopy, you don't know if they have an ulcer or another etiology.

Most of our gastroenterologists recommend this regimen (all three therapies)

Other things to consider:

  • Platelets, FFP
  • Intubate EARLY-most endoscopists will want the airway protected prior to the scope.
  • Don't be too aggressive with blood replacement/IVF: The gastroenterologist don't want these patients too resuscitated with blood products. Certainly don't aim for a Hct >30.

Category: Gastrointestional

Title: Volvulus Quick Facts

Keywords: Volvulus, Cause, (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/17/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 8/17/2022)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Volvulus Quick Facts

  • Volvulus causes 10-15% of large bowel obstructions and occurs most commonly in the elderly.
  • The most common type of volvulus is sigmoid volvulus.
  • Midgut volvulus is most common in the neonatal period.
  • Cecal volvulus:
    • Occurs in all ages, but most commonly in the 25- to 35-year-old age group
    • Associated with:
      • previous abdominal surgeries
      • young, healthy marathon runners.
  • Sigmoid volvulus most commonly occurs in two groups of individuals:
    • Inactive elderly persons with a history of severe chronic constipation
    • Patients with severe psychiatric or neurologic disease.

Category: Gastrointestional

Title: Gastrointestional Bleeding

Keywords: Gi Bleed, Diveriticular, Bleed, (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/22/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 8/17/2022)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Gastrointestional Bleeding Pearls. [Quick Facts]
  • Peptic ulcer disease has 2 main etiologies: 1) Helicobacter pylorus infection and 2) NSAID use. Zollinger Ellison Syndrome causes 1% of peptic ulcer disease.
  • Hemorrhage is the most common complication of peptic ulcer disease, occurring in 15% of patients
  • 25% of patients over the age of 60 years have an AV malformation.
  • The most common cause of significant lower GI bleeding in the elderly is diverticulosis or angiodysplasia. That typically presents as painless bright red rectal bleeding.
  • AV malformations are the number 2 cause of massive lower gastrointestinal hemorrhage.
  • Rectal bleeding following AAA repair is from aortoenteric fistula until proven otherwise.

Category: Gastrointestional

Title: Medical Management of Upper GI Bleeds

Keywords: Peptic Ulcer Disease, Omeprazole, Bleeding (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/19/2007 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 8/17/2022)
Click here to contact Michael Bond, MD

Medical Management of Upper GI bleeds. Peptic Ulcer Disease: Proton pump inhibitors are the main stay of therapy. Use is based on the observation that pH over 6 is required for platelet aggregation whereas pH below 5 results in clot lysis. High dose IV therapy should be reserved with those that have high risk stigmata of rebleeding as seen on endoscopy. Regular dose IV or PO omeprazole can be used in most patients. Variceal Bleeding: Consider octreatide (50 mcg bolus followed by 50 mcg/hr IV) and non-selective beta blocker therapy to reduce bleeding. Human recombinant activated factor VII has gotten a lot of press lately though it did not reduce the risk of death at either 5 or 42 days in patients with liver related GI bleeds.A Wong T. The management of upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage. [Review] [31 refs] [Journal Article. Review] Clinical Medicine. 6(5):460-4, 2006 Sep-Oct. Marti-Carvajal AJ. Salanti G. Marti-Carvajal PI. Human recombinant activated factor VII for upper gastrointestinal bleeding in patients with liver diseases. [Review] [45 refs] [Journal Article. Review] Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (1):CD004887, 2007. Martins NB. Wassef W. Upper gastrointestinal bleeding. [Review] [87 refs] [Journal Article. Review] Current Opinion in Gastroenterology. 22(6):612-9, 2006 Nov.