March 1987

Peptic Ulcer Perforation Associated With Steroid Use

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, and the Iowa City Veterans Administration Medical Center. Dr Dayton is now with the Salt Lake City Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Arch Surg. 1987;122(3):376-380. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1987.01400150130025

• A ten-year (1974 to 1984) retrospective chart review was conducted to find all patients with peptic ulcer perforation associated with steroid treatment. During this period, 151 peptic ulcer perforations occurred, 25 (17%) associated with steroid use. Twenty patients had the diagnosis confirmed at operation, five at autopsy. The most common operative procedure was oversewing of the perforation with an omental patch (ten cases). Postoperative complications occurred in 16 patients and were multiple in 11. Underlying malignant neoplasms were the most common concurrent disease (11 patients), five patients having brain metastasis. Of 25 patients, 15 died—five preoperatively and ten postoperatively. Patients older than age 50 years had an overall mortality of 85%; those younger than age 50 years, 17%. A recurring pattern in 21 patients was perforation occurring after a major increase in steroid dose (pulse). Ulcer perforations associated with steroid use (1) constitute a significant portion of all ulcer perforations, (2) are lethal in most patients older than age 50 years, and (3) are often associated with a steroid pulse before perforation.

(Arch Surg 1987;122:376-380)