, Volume 52, Issue 9, pp 2225-2228

Risk of Aspiration Pneumonia in Suspected Variceal Hemorrhage: The Value of Prophylactic Endotracheal Intubation Prior to Endoscopy

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Variceal hemorrhage (VH) is a lethal complication of portal hypertension. Aspiration occurring during endoscopic intervention for acute VH is a concern; however, few data exist regarding the efficacy of prophylactic intubation to prevent aspiration pneumonia. We reviewed all endoscopic procedures for acute VH from January 1995 to December 2002; only patients with the absence of hepatic encephalopathy greater than stage II and normal chest x-ray at admission were included. The use of prophylactic intubation, postprocedure chest x-ray, and mortality were recorded. Sixty-two patients (69 bleeding episodes) were identified. Elective intubation was performed in 42 patients (47 episodes); pulmonary infiltrates developed in 7 of 42 (17%), with an overall mortality rate of 9 of 42 (21%). Twenty patients (22 episodes) were not intubated. None developed pulmonary infiltrates, and the overall mortality rate was 1 in 20 (5%). We conclude that in patients with suspected variceal bleeding, elective intubation is associated with a substantial risk of aspiration pneumonia.