- gastric fluid volume and pH
- pulmonary aspiration
Pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents remains one of the most feared complications of anesthesia. A gastric pH of 2.5 or less and a volume of 25 ml (0.4 ml/kg body weight) or more in average adult patients are considered critical factors for the development of pulmonary damage in adults.
This study compared the efficacy of a single oral dose of erythromycin (a macrolide antibiotic) with oral pantoprazole (a proton pump inhibitor) on pre-operative gastric fluid volume and pH in a prospective, randomized, double-blind controlled fashion in 80 adult patients (of ASA physical status I and II) planned for elective surgery under general anesthesia. Patients were divided into two groups of 40 patients each. The pantoprazole group (Group I) received oral pantoprazole 40 mg and the erythromycin group (Group II) received oral erythromycin 250 mg at least 1 h prior to the induction of anesthesia. After tracheal intubation, gastric fluid was aspirated via a Salem Sump tube and its volume and pH were measured.
Although both erythromycin and pantoprazole decreased the gastric fluid volume to a similar extent, the decrease in gastric fluid acidity by pantoprazole was significantly greater than that by erythromycin. The proportion of patients at risk of pulmonary aspiration according to traditional criteria, i.e. pH ≤2.5 and volume ≥25ml, was lower in the pantoprazole group.