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Angiodysplasia of the Colon

Definition

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

Normal Anatomy of the Intestines
Normal Anatomy of the Large and Small Intestine
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Angiodysplasia of the colon is caused by dilated connections between veins and capillaries or arteries in the colon.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of angiodysplasia of the colon include:

  • Increasing age
  • Heart problems
  • History of blood vessel problems or GI tract bleeding
  • Kidney problems
  • A blood disorder called von Willebrands disease

Symptoms

Symptoms of angiodysplasia of the colon may include:

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

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

Imaging tests help evaluate internal structures. Some may use contrast material to make them easier to see. Imaging tests may include:

Treatment

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

Colonoscopy

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

Angiography

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

Medical Therapy

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

Surgery

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

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent angiodysplasia of the colon.

Revision Information

  • American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging

    http://www.healthinaging.org

  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

    http://www.niddk.nih.gov

  • Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

    https://www.cag-acg.org

  • Canadian Digestive Health Foundation

    http://www.cdhf.ca

  • Gastrointestinal angiodysplasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 14, 2015. Accessed February 15, 2016.

  • 6/19/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Jackson CS, Gerson LB. Management of gastrointestinal angiodysplastic lesions (GIADs): A systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014;109(4):474-483.