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Open Access Short Report

A Fibreoptic endoscopic study of upper gastrointestinal bleeding at Bugando Medical Centre in northwestern Tanzania: A retrospective review of 240 cases

Hyasinta Jaka1*, Mheta Koy1, Anthony Liwa2, Rodrick Kabangila1, Mariam Mirambo3, Wolfgang Scheppach4, Eliasa Mkongo5, Mabula D Mchembe6 and Phillipo L Chalya7

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Bugando Medical Centre, Mwanza, Tanzania

2 Department of Pharmacology, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences-Bugando, Mwanza, Tanzania

3 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences-Bugando, Mwanza, Tanzania

4 Department of Gastroenterologie and Rheumatologie, Stiftung Juliusspital, Juliuspromenade, Wurzburg, Germany

5 Department of Surgery, Amana Hospital and Hubert Kairuki Memorial University, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

6 Department of Surgery, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

7 Department of Surgery, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences-Bugando, Mwanza, Tanzania

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:200  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-200

Published: 26 April 2012



Upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is recognized as a common and potentially life-threatening abdominal emergency that needs a prompt assessment and aggressive emergency treatment. A retrospective study was undertaken at Bugando Medical Centre in northwestern Tanzania between March 2010 and September 2011 to describe our own experiences with fibreoptic upper GI endoscopy in the management of patients with upper gastrointestinal bleeding in our setting and compare our results with those from other centers in the world.


A total of 240 patients representing 18.7% of all patients (i.e. 1292) who had fibreoptic upper GI endoscopy during the study period were studied. Males outnumbered female by a ratio of 2.1:1. Their median age was 37 years and most of patients (60.0%) were aged 40 years and below. The vast majority of the patients (80.4%) presented with haematemesis alone followed by malaena alone in 9.2% of cases. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, alcohol and smoking prior to the onset of bleeding was recorded in 7.9%, 51.7% and 38.3% of cases respectively. Previous history of peptic ulcer disease was reported in 22(9.2%) patients. Nine (3.8%) patients were HIV positive. The source of bleeding was accurately identified in 97.7% of patients. Diagnostic accuracy was greater within the first 24 h of the bleeding onset, and in the presence of haematemesis. Oesophageal varices were the most frequent cause of upper GI bleeding (51.3%) followed by peptic ulcers in 25.0% of cases. The majority of patients (60.8%) were treated conservatively. Endoscopic and surgical treatments were performed in 30.8% and 5.8% of cases respectively. 140 (58.3%) patients received blood transfusion. The median length of hospitalization was 8 days and it was significantly longer in patients who underwent surgical treatment and those with higher Rockall scores (P < 0.001). Rebleeding was reported in 3.3% of the patients. The overall mortality rate of 11.7% was significantly higher in patients with variceal bleeding, shock, hepatic decompensation, HIV infection, comorbidities, malignancy, age > 60 years and in patients with higher Rockall scores and those who underwent surgery (P < 0.001).


Oesophageal varices are the commonest cause of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in our environment and it is associated with high morbidity and mortality. The diagnostic accuracy of fibreoptic endoscopy was related to the time interval between the onset of bleeding and endoscopy. Therefore, it is recommended that early endoscopy should be performed within 24 h of the onset of bleeding.

Fibreoptic endoscopy; Upper gastrointestinal bleeding; Aetiological spectrum; Clinical profile; Management; Clinical outcome; Tanzania