Efficacy and safety of gastrointestinal bleeding prophylaxis in critically ill patients: systematic review and network meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon

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  • AbstractObjectiveTo determine, in critically ill patients, the relative impact of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), histamine-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs), sucralfate, or no gastrointestinal bleeding prophylaxis (or stress ulcer prophylaxis) on outcomes important to patients.DesignSystematic review and network meta-analysis.Data sourcesMedline, PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, trial registers, and grey literature up to March 2019.Eligibility criteria for selecting studies and methodsWe included randomised controlled trials that compared gastrointestinal bleeding prophylaxis with PPIs, H2RAs, or sucralfate versus one another or placebo or no prophylaxis in adult critically ill patients. Two reviewers independently screened studies for eligibility, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. A parallel guideline committee (BMJ Rapid Recommendation) provided critical oversight of the systematic review, including identifying outcomes important to patients. We performed random-effects pairwise and network meta-analyses and used GRADE to assess certainty of evidence for each outcome. When results differed between low risk and high risk of bias studies, we used the former as best estimates.ResultsSeventy two trials including 12 660 patients proved eligible. For patients at highest risk (>8%) or high risk (4-8%) of bleeding, both PPIs and H2RAs probably reduce clinically important gastrointestinal bleeding compared with placebo or no prophylaxis (odds ratio for PPIs 0.61 (95% confidence interval 0.42 to 0.89), 3.3% fewer for highest risk and 2.3% fewer for high risk patients, moderate certainty; odds ratio for H2RAs 0.46 (0.27 to 0.79), 4.6% fewer for highest risk and 3.1% fewer for high risk patients, moderate certainty). Both may increase the risk of pneumonia compared with no prophylaxis (odds ratio for PPIs 1.39 (0.98 to 2.10), 5.0% more, low certainty; odds ratio for H2RAs 1.26 (0.89 to 1.85), 3.4% more, low certainty). It is likely that neither affect mortality (PPIs 1.06 (0.90 to 1.28), 1.3% more, moderate certainty; H2RAs 0.96 (0.79 to 1.19), 0.9% fewer, moderate certainty). Otherwise, results provided no support for any affect on mortality, Clostridium difficile infection, length of intensive care stay, length of hospital stay, or duration of mechanical ventilation (varying certainty of evidence).ConclusionsFor higher risk critically ill patients, PPIs and H2RAs likely result in important reductions in gastrointestinal bleeding compared with no prophylaxis; for patients at low risk, the reduction in bleeding may be unimportant. Both PPIs and H2RAs may result in important increases in pneumonia. Variable quality evidence suggested no important effects of interventions on mortality or other in-hospital morbidity outcomes.Systematic review registrationPROSPERO CRD42019126656.


  • Wang, Ying
  • Ye, Zhikang
  • Ge, Long
  • Siemieniuk, Reed AC
  • Wang, Xin
  • Wang, Yingkai
  • Hou, Liangying
  • Ma, Zhuo
  • Agoritsas, Thomas
  • Vandvik, Per Olav
  • Perner, Anders
  • Møller, Morten H
  • Guyatt, Gordon
  • Liu, Lihong

publication date

  • January 6, 2020