Therapeutic Endoscopy Rarely Beneficial in Infants with Gastrointestinal Bleeding

P Bose et al. JPGN 2022; 75: 514-520. Endoscopy in Infants With Gastrointestinal Bleeding Has Limited Diagnostic or Therapeutic Benefit

I read this article shortly after convincing a surgical colleague to explore a well-appearing 6 month old with gastrointestinal bleeding for a Meckel’s diverticulum rather than undergo endoscopy.

In this retrospective cohort study of hospitalized infants (n=56, =/< 12 months) with gastrointestinal bleeding, the authors reviewed endoscopic procedures (EGD, Colonoscopy, Flexible Sigmoidoscopy) with respect to identifying diagnosis and in terms of outcomes.

Key points:

  • Seven endoscopies identified sources of GIB: gastric ulcers, a duodenal ulcer, gastric angiodysplasia, esophageal varices, and an anastomotic ulcer.
  • Intervention for bleeding control occurred in just 3 cases (5.4%); two of these had liver disease.
  • Most (55%) had no abnormalities on endoscopy
  • The authors detail two fatal cases in which GIB started in the first week of life. Both had complications occurring within 3 hours of endoscopy, one with a gastric perforation and one with necrotizing enterocolitis.

My take: Endoscopy in infants with GIB is rarely beneficial. Supportive care and surgical interventions should be considered, especially in those without underlying liver disease.

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