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Perforation of an ulcer of the stomach or duodenum is a surgical emergency; however, before performing the operation, sufficient time should be allowed for the patient to recover from the initial shock (rarely severe or prolonged) and for the restoration of the fluid balance. The choice for closure of the perforation versus a definitive ulcer procedure depends upon the overall assessment of risk factors by the surgeon. Laparoscopic exploration with or without definitive repair is often preferred especially in the setting of anterior perforation of the duodenum with a plan for simple closure.


A narcotic is used to control pain only after the diagnosis is established. The intravenous administration of appropriate type and volume of fluid is necessary, depending upon the patient’s general condition and the length of time that has elapsed since perforation. The parenteral administration of antibiotics and the institution of constant gastric suction are routine.


General endotracheal anesthesia combined with muscle relaxants is preferred.


The patient is placed in a comfortable supine position with the feet slightly lower than the head to assist in bringing the field below the costal margin and to keep gastric leakage away from the subphrenic area.


The skin is prepared in the usual manner.


Since the majority of perforations occur in the anterior-superior surface of the first portion of the duodenum, a small, high, midline is made. A culture of the peritoneal fluid is taken, and as much exudate as possible is removed by suction. The liver is held upward with retractors, exposing the most frequent sites of perforation. The site may be walled off with omentum if the perforation has been present several hours; therefore, care is exercised in approaching the perforation to avoid unnecessary soiling.


The easiest method of closure consists of placing three sutures of fine silk through the submucosal layer on one side with extension through the region of the ulcer and then out a corresponding distance on the other side of the ulcer (figure 1). Starting at the top of the ulcer, the sutures are tied very gently to prevent laceration of the friable tissues. The long ends are retained (figure 2). The closure is reinforced with omentum by separating the long ends of the three previously tied sutures and placing a small portion of omentum along the suture line. The ends of these sutures are loosely tied, anchoring the omentum over the site of the ulcer (figure 3).

The tissue may be so indurated that the ulcer cannot be ...

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