Angiodysplasia of the Colon
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Angiodysplasia of the colon occurs when blood vessels in the colon enlarge. They may become fragile and result in occasional bleeding in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Normal Anatomy of the Intestines

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Angiodysplasia of the colon is caused by dilated connections between veins and capillaries or arteries in the large intestine (colon)

  • The tendency for abnormal blood vessel connections increases with age
  • Colon spasms may contribute to enlargement of blood vessels in the area
Risk Factors
Factors that increase your risk of angiodysplasia of the colon include:

  • Age: over 60
  • Injury to the GI tract
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Lung problems
  • von Willebrand's disease—a disorder of the blood
  • Blood vessel problems
  • Excessive or abnormal contractions of the colon
Symptoms of angiodysplasia of the colon may include:

  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
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:

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:

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

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

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

Medications called somatostatin analogs may be used to prevent bleeding in some people.

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

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

AGS Foundation for Health in Aging

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation

Angiodysplasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated June 2, 2014. Accessed June 16, 2014.

American Gastroenterological Association. AGA guideline: evaluation and management of occult and obscure gastrointestinal bleeding. Gastroenterology . 2000;118:197.
6/19/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Jackson CS, Gerson LB. Management of gastrointestinal angiodysplastic lesions (GIADs): a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014 Apr;109(4):474-83.

Last Reviewed July 2014

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