Angiodysplasia of the Colon
En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition
Angiodysplasia of the colon occurs when enlarged and fragile blood vessels in the colon result in occasional bleeding in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Normal Anatomy of the Intestines

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Causes
Angiodysplasia of the colon can be caused by:

  • Increased age
  • Colon spasms that enlarge blood vessels in the area
Risk Factors
Factors that increase your risk of angiodysplasia of the colon include:

Symptoms
Symptoms of angiodysplasia of the colon may include:

  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dark, tarry stools
Diagnosis
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your bodily fluids and waste may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool tests
Your internal structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:

Treatment
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment may not be necessary, since about 90% of cases of angiodysplasia of the colon stop bleeding on their own. Treatment options include the following:

Colonoscopy
Your doctor can often burn tissues with heat to seal bleeding blood vessels during a colonoscopy.

Angiography
The blood supply to the bleeding area can be clotted through angiography.

Medical Therapy
Hormonal therapy with estrogen can be helpful for some causes.

Surgery
Surgery to remove the affected area of the colon may sometimes be necessary.

Prevention
There is no known way to prevent angiodysplasia of the colon.




RESOURCES:
AGS Foundation for Health in Aging

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation

References:
Angiodysplasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated October 30, 2012. Accessed July 26, 2013.

American Gastroenterological Association. AGA guideline: evaluation and management of occult and obscure gastrointestinal bleeding. Gastroenterology . 2000;118:197.

Last Reviewed July 2013



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