Factors influencing outcome in patients with perforated peptic ulcer disease at a South African tertiary hospital

Keywords: perforated peptic ulcer, omental patch, debridement and primary repair, Boey score


Background: Perforated peptic ulcer (PPU) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, particularly in low to middle income countries. This study aimed to scrutinise the clinical course of patients diagnosed with PPU and identify modifiable factors to improve outcomes.

Methods: A retrospective review of the hybrid electronic medical record (HEMR) database at Grey’s Hospital was performed. All patients diagnosed with PPU between January 2013 and December 2020 were entered into the study. The variables collected include age, ethnicity, comorbid profile, Boey score, type of surgery performed and complications. These factors were analysed to determine the factors responsible for morbidity and  mortality.

Results: One hundred and ninety four patients were diagnosed with PPU during the study period. Six patients were treated non-operatively, all of whom survived. In the surgically treated group, omental patch repair was performed in 159 (84.5%) patients, and primary closure in 26 (13.8%) patients. The leak rate was 32% in the cohort that underwent relaparotomy and the overall mortality was 14%. There was no significant relationship between the type of repair performed and outcome. All patients had a Boey score of 1 or more. The following factors were found to increase the probability of in-hospital mortality: age > 40 years (OR: 8.49, 95% CI 2.46–29.29 p < 0.01), female gender (OR: 2.509, CI 0.98–6.37, p = 0.048), need for relaparotomy (OR: 0.398, CI 0.17–0.91, p = 0.027) and Boey score > 1 (OR: 46.437, CI 6.13–350.28, p < 0.01). A Boey score > 1 was the only variable that increased the likelihood of finding a leaking repair at relaparotomy (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: The Boey score was a significant predictor of mortality and leak rate in our patients with PPU. Adding age as a variable may improve the ability to predict mortality in our setting, while the impact of gender and ethnicity needs further investigation.

Author Biographies

J J Nanack, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Department of General Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

L Ferndale, Grey’s Hospital

Department of Gastro-Intestinal Surgery, Grey’s Hospital, South Africa

How to Cite
Nanack, J., & Ferndale, L. (2023). Factors influencing outcome in patients with perforated peptic ulcer disease at a South African tertiary hospital. South African Journal of Surgery, 61(4), 22-26. Retrieved from http://sajs.redbricklibrary.co.za/index.php/sajs/article/view/4005