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Erythromycin Improves the Quality of Esophagogastroduodenoscopy in Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding: A Network Meta-Analysis

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Upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB) usually requires esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) for diagnostic and—potentially—therapeutic purposes. However, blood within the gastric lumen may hinder the procedure. Administration of prokinetics like erythromycin has shown efficacy. This network meta-analysis investigates the efficacy of this intervention prior to EGD.


We performed a systematic literature search of Embase, PubMed/Medline, and other databases through March 8, 2022 to include randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing prokinetic use in EGD for UGIB. We used the DerSimonian-Laird approach to pool data and compare outcomes including need for repeat endoscopy and blood transfusion. Pooled prevalence of proportional outcomes, 95% confidence interval (CI), and p-values were calculated.


We included eight RCTs with four distinct intervention groups (erythromycin, placebo to erythromycin, nasogastric (NG) lavage and NG lavage + erythromycin) published between 2002 and 2020 with a total of 721 patients (mean age 60.0 ± 3.1 years; 73.2% male). The need for second look endoscopy was significantly lower with erythromycin than placebo (relative risk: 0.42, CI 0.22–0.83, p = 0.01). Using the frequentist approach, the combination of NG lavage and erythromycin (92.2) was rated highest, followed by erythromycin alone (73.1) for higher rates of empty stomach. Erythromycin was rated highest for lower need for packed red blood cell transfusion (72.8) as well as mean endoscopy duration (66.0).


Erythromycin improved visualization at EGD, reduced requirements for blood transfusion and repeat EGD, and shortened hospital stay. The combination of erythromycin and NG lavage showed reduced mortality.

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Authors and Affiliations



MA and HH: Planning and conducting the study, collecting, interpreting data, statistical analysis, drafting the manuscript. MKG, SW, ARP, MKR, LBS, ZAA, and FK: collecting, interpreting data, drafting the manuscript. WLS: Created the search strategy and collected data, critical revision of manuscript. AN and CWH: Study design and conception, supervision, critical revision of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Muhammad Aziz.

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Aziz, M., Haghbin, H., Gangwani, M.K. et al. Erythromycin Improves the Quality of Esophagogastroduodenoscopy in Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding: A Network Meta-Analysis. Dig Dis Sci 68, 1435–1446 (2023).

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