R Hall, C Royston, KD Bardhan
Journal Issue: 
Volume 44: Issue 3: 2014



Background: The changing pattern of haemorrhage and perforation from peptic ulcer disease is well documented but little is known about pyloric stenosis, the third complication of the disease.

Methods: We reviewed records relating to definitive operations (with intent to cure) for peptic ulcer disease carried out in York, UK from 1929-1997. We categorised the patients as pyloric stenosis and no pyloric stenosis based on findings at operation and examined the change in total number of cases with pyloric stenosis and proportion of cases with pyloric stenosis, by year of operation and by decade of birth. To place our results in perspective, we reviewed world literature to examine rates of pyloric stenosis as a percentage of operative cases reported in other case series in the 20th century.

Results: 4178 patients were included in the analysis; 3697 without pyloric stenosis and 481 with pyloric stenosis (11.5%). Analysis by birth cohort showed that the proportion found to have pyloric stenosis at surgery fell from 17% in the first cohort (birth 1880-89) to only 2.9% in the last cohort (birth 1950-59; p<0.001). Mean age at operation fell more steeply for those with pyloric stenosis: 74 to 30 years vs. 65 to 28 years (p <0.001). The trend of final decline started before the introduction of modern medical treatment. Review of similar case series from across the world shows a similar decline in the proportion of peptic ulcer cases showing pyloric stenosis at operation.

Conclusion: The reduction in pyloric stenosis over the last several decades is disproportionately greater than the change seen in peptic ulcer disease requiring surgery. Our findings suggest that this reduction in pyloric stenosis is largely the result of the changing natural history of the disease rather than due to the introduction of acid-suppressing medication.