NSAIDs gi bleed

Do no harm.

We so often recommend and give NSAIDs to patients for various painful conditions. We also commonly administer ketorolac (toradol) in the ED, because it works so amazingly well for renal colic. When giving various NSAIDs, what is the relative risk (RR) for an upper GI bleed or perforation in the first year?

Ketorolac has the highest upper GI complication RR (14.54) for all of the studied NSAIDs. Compare this with the overall risk of traditional COX-1 NSAIDS (RR=4.5) and COX-2 inhibitors (RR=1.88). So before giving ketorolac, first check that patients don’t have a history of a GI bleed or peptic ulcer.

PV Card: NSAIDs and Upper GI Bleed

Adapted from [1] Go to ALiEM (PV) Cards for more resources.


  1. Massó G, Patrignani P, Tacconelli S, García R. Variability among nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs in risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Arthritis Rheum. 2010;62(6):1592-1601. [PubMed]
Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at https://t.co/50EapJORCa Bio: https://t.co/7v7cgJqNEn
Michelle Lin, MD