Extensive necrosis of duodenum after injection sclerotherapy
of a bleeding duodenal ulcer with 5% ethanolamine

Panagiotis Katsinelos,
Grigoris Chatzimavroudis, Georgia Lazaraki, Kostas Fasoulas

“G. Gennimatas” General Hospital, Thessaloniki Greece


We read with considerable interest the study of Konstantinidis et al about the use of ethanolamine 5% as injection therapy for bleeding peptic ulcer [1]. Having experienced a severe complication induced by ethanolamine injection, we are concerned with the study’s conclusion that injection treatment with ethanolamine is safe.

An 85-year-old man with a history of heart failure stage III, hypertension and recent diclofenac treatment for knee osteoarthritis, presented with hematemesis. Urgent upper gastrointestinal endoscopy revealed a relatively large ulcer with a non-bleeding visible vessel on the posterior wall near to the apex of duodenal bulb. Four mL of epinephrine solution (1:10000) plus 3 mL ethanolamine were injected in the four quadrants around the ulcer (epinephrine) and within the ulcer base (ethanolamine). Six hours later he developed severe upper abdominal pain and non-bloody vomiting. An abdominal x-ray showed free air under the diaphragms. Surgery demonstrated an extensive necrosis of distal antrum, bulb and second part of duodenum due to thrombosis of the gastroduodenal artery. He underwent a Whipple operation with uneventful course.

Despite the fact that sclerosants are described as safe and effective in treating bleeding ulcers, they may be associated with serious complications including perforation, necrosis, ulceration, vessel thrombosis and hemorrhage, leading to significant morbidity and one reported fatality [2-6]. Moreover, four studies showed no advantage of using ethanolamine alone or in combination over using epinephrine alone [7-10].

Therefore, we believe that there is a limited role for sclerosants in light of other therapies with fewer associated complications.


1.     Konstantinidis A, Valatas V, Ntelis V, et al. Endoscopic treatment for high-risk bleeding peptic ulcers: a comparison of epinephrine alone with epinephrine plus ethanolamine. Ann Gastroenterol 2011;24:101-107.

2.     Benedetti G, Sablich R, Lacchin T. Endoscopic injection sclerotherapy in non-variceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding. A comparative study of polidocanol and thrombin. Surg Endosc 1991;5:28-30.

3.     Rutgeerts P, Geboes K, Vantrappen G. Experimental studies of injection therapy for severe nonvariceal bleeding in dogs. Gastroenterology 1989;97:610-621.

4.     Loperfido S, Patellis G, La Torre L. Extensive necrosis of gastric mucosa following injection therapy of bleeding peptic ulcer. Endoscopy 1990;22:285-286.

5.     Chester JF, Hurley PR. Gastric necrosis: a complication of endoscopic sclerosis for bleeding peptic ulcer. Endoscopy 1990;22:287.

6.     Levy J, Khakoo S, Barton R, Vicary R. Fatal injection sclerotherapy of a bleeding peptic ulcer. Lancet 1991;337:504.

7.     Rajgopal C, Palmer KR. Endoscopic sclerosis: effective treatment for bleeding peptic ulcer. Gut 1991;32:727-729.

8.     Oxner RB, Simmonds NJ, Gertner DJ, Nightingale JM, Burnham WR. Controlled trial of endoscopic injection treatment for bleeding from peptic ulcers with visible vessels. Lancet 1992;339:966-968.

9.     Choudari CP, Rajgopal C, Palmer KR. Comparison of endoscopic injection therapy versus the heater probe in major peptic ulcer haemorrhage. Gut 1992;33:1159-1161.

10.   Choudari CP, Rajgopal C, Elton RA, Palmer KR. Failures of endoscopic therapy for bleeding peptic ulcer: an analysis of risk factors. Am J Gastroenterol 1994;89:1968-1972.


Department of Endoscopy and Motility Unit, G. Gennimatas General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece

Conflict of Interest: None

Correspondence to: Panagiotis Katsinelos,

Ass. Prof. of Gastroenterology, Head, Department of Endoscopy

and Motility Unit, “G. Gennimatas” General Hospital,

Thessaloniki, Greece; tel: 00302310963341, fax: 00302310211241, e-mail: gchatzimav@yahoo.gr

Received 28 June 2011; accepted 17 August 2011


Author’s reply

Vassilis Valatasa

“G. Gennimatas” General Hospital, Athens, Greece

 Dr P. Katsinelos’ letter contributes substantially to the discussion on the safety of injection sclerotherapy for peptic ulcer bleeding. Although sclerosant-induced vascular thrombosis can lead to wall necrosis and free perforation, previously published series as well as our study, do not report any occurrence of free perforation with the use of ethanolamine [1-3]. In our Department, one perforation has occurred after the completion of more than 200 procedures. This case was a second attempt to treat recurrent bleeding from a large duodenal ulcer with increased volumes of ethanolamine. Thus we could advise against the use of large ethanolamine volumes (>2 mL) for hemostasis of duodenal ulcers. Taken together, the above data indicate that perforation probably occurs in much lower frequencies than the 3-4%, reported with the use of multipolar electrocoagulation and heater probe [4,5].

The efficacy of combination injection regimens has been challenged by a small number of early studies that included inadequate numbers of patients to establish superiority over epinephrine monotherapy [2]. However, the superiority of combination injection regiments has been highlighted by a number of meta-analyses [6,7], and acknowledged in the most recent consensus recommendation on the management of patients with non-variceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding [8]. Our work is the first to have included enough patients to demonstrate superiority of the combination of ethanolamine and epinephrine injection therapy over the injection of epinephrine alone for at least one of the study outcomes [3].

Since awareness is considered the cornerstone of safety, Dr Katsinelos’ case report has already served its purpose. However, existing literature data as well as our presented study indicate that ethanolamine with epinephrine injection therapy represents a safe and efficacious alternative whenever safer methods like APC or hemoclips are either unavailable or difficult to apply [3,9].


1.     Rajgopal C, Palmer KR. Endoscopic injection sclerosis: effective treatment for bleeding peptic ulcer. Gut 1991;32:727-729.

2.     Choudari CP, Palmer KR. Endoscopic injection therapy for bleeding peptic ulcer; a comparison of adrenaline alone with adrenaline plus ethanolamine oleate. Gut 1994;35:608-610.

3.     Konstantinidis A, Valatas V, Ntelis V, et al. Endoscopic treatment for high-risk bleeding peptic ulcers: a comparison of epinephrine alone with epinephrine plus ethanolamine. Ann Gastroenterol 2011;24:101-107.

4.     Laine L. Multipolar electrocoagulation versus injection therapy in the treatment of bleeding peptic ulcers. A prospective, randomized trial. Gastroenterology 1990;99:1303-1306.

5.     Chung SC, Leung JW, Sung JY, et al. Injection or heat probe for bleeding ulcer. Gastroenterology 1991;100:33-37.

6.     Marmo R, Rotondano G, Piscopo R, et al. Dual therapy versus monotherapy in the endoscopic treatment of high-risk bleeding ulcers: a meta-analysis of controlled trials. Am J Gastroenterol 2007;102:279-289; quiz 469.

7.     Vergara M, Calvet X, Gisbert JP. Epinephrine injection versus epinephrine injection and a second endoscopic method in high risk bleeding ulcers. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007;18:CD005584.

8.     Barkun AN, Bardou M, Kuipers EJ, et al. International consensus recommendations on the management of patients with nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Ann Intern Med 2010;152:101-113.

9.     Peng YC, Chen SY, Tung CF, et al. Factors associated with failure of initial endoscopic hemoclip hemostasis for upper gastrointestinal bleeding. J Clin Gastroenterol 2006;40:25-28.


aDepartment of Gastroenterology, “G. Gennimatas”

General Hospital, Athens, Greece

Conflict of Interest: None

Correspondence to: Vassilis Valatas, MD, PhD,

Gastroenterology Specialist, Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital of Heraklion, PO Box 1352, 711 10,

Heraklion, Crete, Greece,

tel: +30-2810-392256, fax: +30-2810-542085,

e-mail: valatas@gmail.com

Received 8 August 2011; accepted 27 August 2011