A prospective single blind controlled trial was performed to assess the efficacy of the neodymium yttrium aluminium garnet laser in the management of patients bleeding from peptic ulcers and single vessels. Over 20 months 184 patients were found at endoscopy to be bleeding from peptic ulcers and single vessels; 130 of these failed to meet the criteria for entry into the study, but their bleeding stopped with conservative management. Forty-five patients entered the study: in all 25 who were bleeding from ulcers with spots the bleeding stopped irrespective of the treatment allocated. Twenty patients were bleeding from arteries. Eight were allocated to placebo treatment, and all later underwent emergency surgery for further haemorrhage. Twelve were allocated to receive laser treatment, and only one of eight who actually received it required surgery (p less than 0.002). It is concluded that laser treatment reduces the incidence of further haemorrhage and the need for emergency surgery, but the technique is difficult and not always applicable
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