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January 1, 1885

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There is universal agreement that the dietetic treatment of gastric ulcer is of much greater importance than the medicinal treatment. Beef, milk, and eggs were encouraged as the only foods to heal gastric ulcer and "It is especially important to avoid all coarse, mechanically-irritating food, such as brown bread, wheaten grits, oatmeal, etc.; also fatty substances, pastry, acids, highly-seasoned food, vegetables, fruit, and all kinds of spirituous liquor."







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DEFINITION.—Simple ulcer of the stomach is usually round or oval. When of recent formation it has smooth, clean-cut, or rounded borders, without evidence of acute inflammation in its floor or in its borders. When of long duration it usually has thickened and indurated margins. The formation of the ulcer is usually attributed, in part at least, to a disturbance in nutrition and to a subsequent solution by the gastric juice of a circumscribed part of the wall of the stomach. The ulcer may be latent in its course, but it is generally characterized by one or more of the following symptoms: pain, vomiting, dyspepsia, hemorrhage from the stomach, and loss of flesh and strength. It ends frequently in recovery, but it may end in death by perforation of the stomach, by hemorrhage, or by gradual exhaustion.

TREATMENT.—In the absence of any agent which exerts a direct curative influence upon gastric ulcer the main indication for treatment is the removal of all sources of irritation from the ulcer, so that the process of repair may be impeded as little as possible.

Theoretically, this is best accomplished by giving to the stomach complete rest and by nourishing the patient by rectal alimentation. Practically, this method of administering food is attended with many difficulties, and, moreover, the nutrition of the patient eventually suffers by persistence in its employment. In most cases the patient can be more satisfactorily nourished by the stomach, and by proper selection of the diet, without causing injurious irritation of the ulcer.

At the beginning of the course of treatment it is often well to withhold for two or three days all food from the stomach and to resort to exclusive rectal feeding. In some cases with uncontrollable vomiting and after-hemorrhage from the stomach it is necessary to feed the patient exclusively by the rectum.

The substances best adapted for nutritive enemata are artificially-digested foods, such as Leube's pancreatic meat-emulsion, his beef-solution, and peptonized milk-gruel as recommended by Roberts.109 Beef-tea and eggs, which are often used for this purpose, are not to be recommended, as the former has very little nutritive value, and egg albumen is absorbed in but slight amount from the rectum. Expressed beef-juice may also be used for rectal alimentation. The peptones, although physiologically best adapted for nutritive enemata, often irritate the mucous membrane of the rectum, so that they cannot be retained. It has been proven that it is impossible to completely nourish a human being by the rectum.110 Rectal alimentation can sometimes be advantageously combined with feeding by the mouth.

109 Leube's pancreatic meat-emulsion is prepared by adding to 4-8 ounces of scraped and finely-chopped beef l-2½ ounces of fresh finely-chopped oxen's or pig's pancreas freed from fat. To the mixture is added a little lukewarm water until the consistence after stirring is that of thick gruel. The syringe used to inject this mixture should have a wide opening in the nozzle; Leube has constructed one for the purpose (Leube, Deutsches Arch. f. klin. Med., Bd. x. p. 11).
The milk-gruel is prepared by adding a thick, well-boiled gruel made from wheaten flour, arrowroot, or some other farinaceous article to an equal quantity of milk. Just before administration a dessertspoonful of liquor pancreaticus (Benger) or 5 grains of extractum pancreatis (Fairchild Bros.), with 20 grains of bicarbonate of soda, are added to the enema. This may be combined with peptonized beef-tea made according to Roberts's formula (Roberts, On the Digestive Ferments, p. 74, London, 1881).

There is universal agreement that the dietetic treatment of gastric ulcer is of much greater importance than the medicinal treatment. There is [p. 520]hardly another disease in which the beneficial effects of proper regulation of the diet are so apparent as in gastric ulcer. Those articles of food are most suitable which call into action least vigorously the secretion of gastric juice and the peristaltic movements of the stomach, which do not cause abnormal fermentations, which do not remain a long time in the stomach, and which do not mechanically irritate the surface of the ulcer. These requirements are met only by a fluid diet, and are met most satisfactorily by milk and by Leube's beef-solution.

The efficacy of a milk diet in this disease has been attested by long and manifold experience. By its adoption in many cases the pain and the vomiting are relieved, and finally disappear, and the ulcer heals. In general, fresh milk is well borne. If not, skimmed milk may be employed. If the digestion of the milk causes acidity, then a small quantity of bicarbonate of soda or some lime-water (one-fourth to one-half in bulk) may be added to the milk. Large quantities should not be taken at once. Four ounces of milk taken every two hours are generally well borne. Sometimes not more than a tablespoonful can be taken at a time without causing vomiting, and then of course the milk should be given at shorter intervals. It is desirable that the patient should receive at least a quart, and if possible two quarts, during the twenty-four hours. The milk should be slightly warmed, but in some cases cold milk may be better retained. In some instances buttermilk agrees with the patient better than sweet milk. Although many suppose that they have some idiosyncrasy as regards the digestion of milk, this idiosyncrasy is more frequently imaginary than real. Still, there are cases in which milk cannot be retained, even in small quantity.

For such cases peptonized milk often proves serviceable.111 The artificial digestion of milk as well as of other articles of food is a method generally applicable to the treatment of gastric ulcer. The main objection to peptonized milk is the aversion to it that many patients acquire on account of its bitter taste. The peptonization should not be carried beyond a slightly bitter taste. The disagreeable taste may be improved by the addition of a little Vichy or soda-water. Peptonized milk has proved to be most valuable in the treatment of gastric ulcer.

Leube's beef-solution112 is a nutritious, unirritating, and easily-digested article of diet. It can often be taken when milk is not easily or [p. 521]completely digested, or when milk becomes tiresome and disagreeable to the patient. It is relied upon mainly by Leube in his very successful treatment of gastric ulcer. A pot of the beef-solution (corresponding to a half pound of beef) is to be taken during the twenty-four hours. A tablespoonful or more may be given at a time in unsalted or but slightly salted bouillon, to which, if desired, a little of Liebig's beef-extract may be added to improve the taste. The bouillon should be absolutely free from fat. Unfortunately, not a few patients acquire such a distaste for the beef-solution that they cannot be persuaded to continue its use for any considerable length of time.

112 By means of a high temperature and of hydrochloric acid the meat enclosed in an air-tight vessel is converted into a fine emulsion and is partly digested. Its soft consistence, highly nutritious quality, and easy digestibility render this preparation of the greatest value. The beef-solution is prepared in New York satisfactorily by Mettenheimer, druggist, Sixth Avenue and Forty-fifth street, and by Dr. Rudisch, whose preparation is sold by several druggists.

Freshly-expressed beef-juice is also a fairly nutritious food, which can sometimes be employed with advantage. The juice is rendered more palatable if it is pressed from scraped or finely-chopped beef which has been slightly broiled with a little fresh butter and salt. The meat should, however, remain very rare, and the fat should be carefully removed from the juice.

To the articles of diet which have been mentioned can sometimes be added raw or soft-boiled egg in small quantity, and as an addition to the milk crumbled biscuit or wheaten bread which may be toasted, or possibly powdered rice or arrowroot or some of the infant farinaceous foods, such as Nestle's. Milk thickened with powdered cracker does not coagulate in large masses in the stomach, and is therefore sometimes better borne than ordinary milk.

For the first two or three weeks at least the patient should be confined strictly to the bill of fare here given. Nothing should be left to the discretion of the patient or of his friends. The treatment should be methodic. It is not enough to direct the patient simply to take easily-digested food, but precise directions should be given as to what kind of food is to be taken, how much is to be taken at a time, how often it is to be taken, and how it is to be prepared.

Usually, at the end of two or three weeks of this diet the patient's condition is sufficiently improved to allow greater variety in his food. Meat-broths may be given. Boiled white meat of a young fowl can now usually be taken, and agreeable dishes can be prepared with milk, beaten eggs, and farinaceous substances, such as arrowroot, rice, corn-starch, tapioca, and sago. Boiled sweetbread is also admissible. Boiled calf's brain and calf's feet are allowed by Leube at this stage of the treatment.

To these articles can soon be added a very rare beefsteak made from the soft mass scraped by a blunt instrument from a tenderloin of beef, so that all coarse and tough fibres are left behind. This may be superficially broiled with a little fresh butter. Boiled white fish, particularly cod, may also be tried.

It is especially important to avoid all coarse, mechanically-irritating food, such as brown bread, wheaten grits, oatmeal, etc.; also fatty substances, pastry, acids, highly-seasoned food, vegetables, fruit, and all kinds of spirituous liquor. The juice of oranges and of lemons can usually be taken. The food should not be taken very hot or very cold.

For at least two or three months the patient should be confined to the [p. 522]easily-digested articles of diet mentioned. These afford sufficient variety, and no license should be given to exceed the dietary prescribed by the physician. Transgression in this respect is liable to be severely punished by return of the symptoms. When there is reason to believe that the ulcer is cicatrized, the patient may gradually resume his usual diet, but often for a long time, and perhaps for life, he may be compelled to guard his diet very carefully, lest there should be a return of the disease. Should there be symptoms of a relapse, the patient should resume at once the easily-digested diet described above.

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