COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Absence of abdominal pain in older persons with endoscopic ulcers: a prospective study.

OBJECTIVE: In a retrospective study we reported absence of abdominal pain in 35% of elderly patients with peptic ulcer disease. We now report a prospective study on this question.

METHODS: Patients undergoing upper GI endoscopy were systematically questioned before endoscopy. A reproducible method for identifying the location of symptoms was used. Among patients referred for upper endoscopy, there was no selection of patients for study purposes as all had strong indications, such as pain, dyspepsia, GI bleeding, weight loss, or anemia. Patients were divided into two groups according to age: A younger group consisting of patients <50 yr (mean, 33.6 yr) and an older group >60 yr (mean, 70.9 yr).

RESULTS: A total of 277 patients were included in the study. There was no significant difference in reported use of medications, alcohol, or cigarette use between the groups. Of the 106 patients with peptic ulcer, 15 (14.2%) had not experienced pain. Abdominal pain was absent in 5 (6.9%) of the younger patients and 10 (29.4%) of the older patients. The difference was significant using the chi2 method (p = 0.004). A trend toward an even higher proportion of pain-free peptic ulcer disease was noted in the elderly female group (37.5%), but it did not reach statistical significance.

CONCLUSIONS: Absence of abdominal pain is confirmed in approximately 30% of elderly patients with peptic ulcer disease.

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