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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

GI Bleeding

Blood loss from the gastrointestinal tract can be an acute and life-threatening problem. In its most severe form, it requires emergency action by a team of specialist physicians and nurses. The Cleveland Clinic employs such a specialty team, on call 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. Treatment of severe, acute bleeding can be delivered by endoscopy, angiography, or surgery. Endoscopy is most commonly utilized to establish the location and severity of bleeding, and frequently is used to provide definitive therapy for the bleeding. Medications can be injected into actively bleeding ulcers or blood vessels, or various ligatures or clips applied to arrest acute bleeding. Cautery devices and lasers can also be used for certain lesions. The Cleveland Clinic has a full arsenal of such devices at its disposal in the treatment of bleeding.

Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract may also be slow and insidious. Patients may have no symptoms, or symptoms of anemia. Changes in stool color indicating blood loss may be intermittent or not seen at all. Sometimes, chemical tests of the stool indicate a slow and subtle loss of blood. All instances of blood loss from the GI tract do warrant appropriate investigation. Most commonly, the upper intestines or colon are investigated with endoscopes, to ascertain the cause of bleeding. Occult traces of blood in the stool may be a sign of colon polyps or colon cancer.

At times, patients may have recurrent gastrointestinal bleeding not diagnosed with standard endoscopic procedures. The Cleveland Clinic Section of Endoscopy employs specialized techniques such as enteroscopy with dedicated, long enteroscopes, and a new video capsule swallowed by the patient, which provides vivid pictures of the entire gastrointestinal tract. These special devices can provide an accurate diagnosis without exposing the patient to the risks of surgery

Via: http://cms.clevelandclinic.org/

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