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Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) is a symptom of multiple diseases within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Gastrointestinal bleeding is designated as upper or lower based on the etiology’s location to the ligament of Treitz. It is more common to have bleeding in the upper GI tract, with peptic ulcer Peptic ulcer Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) refers to the full-thickness ulcerations of duodenal or gastric mucosa. The ulcerations form when exposure to acid and digestive enzymes overcomes mucosal defense mechanisms. The most common etiologies include Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection and prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Peptic Ulcer Disease disease being the most frequent cause. Depending on the location of the bleeding, the patient may present with hematemesis Hematemesis Vomiting of blood that is either fresh bright red, or older 'coffee-ground' in character. It generally indicates bleeding of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Mallory-Weiss Syndrome (Mallory-Weiss Tear) ( vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia blood), melena (black, tarry stool), or hematochezia (fresh blood in stools). Some patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship presenting with GIB can be hemodynamically unstable and require emergent stabilization and evaluation. The source of the bleed can often be located and treated with endoscopy Endoscopy Procedures of applying endoscopes for disease diagnosis and treatment. Endoscopy involves passing an optical instrument through a small incision in the skin i.e., percutaneous; or through a natural orifice and along natural body pathways such as the digestive tract; and/or through an incision in the wall of a tubular structure or organ, i.e. Transluminal, to examine or perform surgery on the interior parts of the body. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Last updated: Jan 8, 2021

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Epidemiology and Etiology

Epidemiology

  • Upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB):
    • Incidence Incidence The number of new cases of a given disease during a given period in a specified population. It also is used for the rate at which new events occur in a defined population. It is differentiated from prevalence, which refers to all cases in the population at a given time. Measures of Disease Frequency of about 100 per 100,000 adults per year
    • Twice as common in men
    • Increased risk with age (> 60 years)
  • Lower gastrointestinal bleeding (LGIB):
    • Incidence Incidence The number of new cases of a given disease during a given period in a specified population. It also is used for the rate at which new events occur in a defined population. It is differentiated from prevalence, which refers to all cases in the population at a given time. Measures of Disease Frequency of about 20.5 per 100,000 adults per year
    • Increased risk with age (200-fold increase in the 3rd to 9th decades)
    • Somewhat more common in men
  • Risk factors:
    • Helicobacter Helicobacter Helicobacter pylori is a gram-negative bacterium that causes gastric infection. It is the most well known and clinically significant species of Helicobacter. Transmission is believed to occur by ingestion of contaminated food or water; therefore, a higher prevalence of infection is seen in areas with poor sanitation. Helicobacter pylori infection
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs NSAIDS Primary vs Secondary Headaches)
    • Alcohol use
    • Cirrhosis Cirrhosis Cirrhosis is a late stage of hepatic parenchymal necrosis and scarring (fibrosis) most commonly due to hepatitis C infection and alcoholic liver disease. Patients may present with jaundice, ascites, and hepatosplenomegaly. Cirrhosis can also cause complications such as hepatic encephalopathy, portal hypertension, portal vein thrombosis, and hepatorenal syndrome. Cirrhosis
    • Vascular disease

Etiology

Upper gastrointestinal bleed (proximal to the ligament of Treitz): 

  • Esophagus Esophagus The esophagus is a muscular tube-shaped organ of around 25 centimeters in length that connects the pharynx to the stomach. The organ extends from approximately the 6th cervical vertebra to the 11th thoracic vertebra and can be divided grossly into 3 parts: the cervical part, the thoracic part, and the abdominal part. Esophagus: Anatomy
    • Esophageal varices
    • Esophagitis Esophagitis Esophagitis is the inflammation or irritation of the esophagus. The major types of esophagitis are medication-induced, infectious, eosinophilic, corrosive, and acid reflux. Patients typically present with odynophagia, dysphagia, and retrosternal chest pain. Esophagitis: infection or inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation in the esophagus Esophagus The esophagus is a muscular tube-shaped organ of around 25 centimeters in length that connects the pharynx to the stomach. The organ extends from approximately the 6th cervical vertebra to the 11th thoracic vertebra and can be divided grossly into 3 parts: the cervical part, the thoracic part, and the abdominal part. Esophagus: Anatomy 
    • Esophageal cancer Esophageal cancer Esophageal cancer is 1 of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Nearly all esophageal cancers are either adenocarcinoma (commonly affecting the distal esophagus) or squamous cell carcinoma (affecting the proximal two-thirds of the esophagus). Esophageal Cancer
    • Mallory-Weiss tear Mallory-Weiss Tear Mallory-Weiss syndrome (MWS) is defined by the presence of longitudinal mucosal lacerations in the distal esophagus and proximal stomach, which are usually associated with any action that provokes a sudden rise in intraluminal esophageal pressure, such as forceful or recurrent retching, vomiting, coughing, or straining. Mallory-Weiss Syndrome (Mallory-Weiss Tear): a tear in the esophageal lining due to forceful vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia
  • Stomach Stomach The stomach is a muscular sac in the upper left portion of the abdomen that plays a critical role in digestion. The stomach develops from the foregut and connects the esophagus with the duodenum. Structurally, the stomach is C-shaped and forms a greater and lesser curvature and is divided grossly into regions: the cardia, fundus, body, and pylorus. Stomach: Anatomy
    • Gastric ulcer Gastric ulcer Ulceration of the gastric mucosa due to contact with gastric juice. It is often associated with Helicobacter pylori infection or consumption of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Peptic Ulcer Disease
    • Erosive gastritis Gastritis Gastritis refers to inflammation of the gastric mucosa. Gastritis may occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or slowly over time (chronic gastritis). Gastritis may be asymptomatic or with symptoms, including burning abdominal pain (which either worsens or improves with eating), dyspepsia, nausea, and vomiting. Gastritis
    • Gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE): dilated small blood vessels in the pyloric antrum (uncommon)
    • Portal hypertensive gastropathy Portal Hypertensive Gastropathy Portal Hypertension
    • Dieulafoy lesion Dieulafoy lesion Vascular malformation in the stomach (submucosa) that ulcerates and causes massive bleeding Peptic Ulcer Disease: large, tortuous vessel that can erode and bleed
    • Angiodysplasia: abnormal collection of blood vessels
  • Duodenum Duodenum The shortest and widest portion of the small intestine adjacent to the pylorus of the stomach. It is named for having the length equal to about the width of 12 fingers. Small Intestine: Anatomy
    • Duodenal ulcer Duodenal ulcer A peptic ulcer located in the duodenum. Peptic Ulcer Disease
    • Angiodysplasia
    • Aortoenteric fistula Fistula Abnormal communication most commonly seen between two internal organs, or between an internal organ and the surface of the body. Anal Fistula (rare)
  • Gastric and duodenal ulcers are the most common causes.

Lower GIB (distal to the ligament of Treitz):

  • Diverticular disease Diverticular disease Diverticula are protrusions of the bowel wall occurring most commonly in the colon. The condition of having diverticula (called diverticulosis) is mostly asymptomatic. These diverticula can become symptomatic, however, when associated with diseases. Diverticulitis is the inflammation of diverticula, often presenting with lower abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits. Diverticular Disease
    • Diverticulosis Diverticulosis A pathological condition characterized by the presence of a number of colonic diverticula in the colon. Its pathogenesis is multifactorial, including colon aging, motor dysfunction, increases in intraluminal pressure, and lack of dietary fibers. Diverticular Disease: sac-like protrusion of the colonic wall (common)
    • Diverticulitis Diverticulitis Inflammation of a diverticulum or diverticula. Diverticular Disease: less commonly associated with GI bleed
    • Meckel’s diverticulum Diverticulum A pouch or sac opening from the colon. Diverticular Disease: congenital Congenital Chorioretinitis outpouching in the ileum Ileum The distal and narrowest portion of the small intestine, between the jejunum and the ileocecal valve of the large intestine. Small Intestine: Anatomy
  • Vascular disease
    • Angiodysplasia
    • Ischemia Ischemia A hypoperfusion of the blood through an organ or tissue caused by a pathologic constriction or obstruction of its blood vessels, or an absence of blood circulation. Ischemic Cell Damage (e.g., mesenteric ischemia Ischemia A hypoperfusion of the blood through an organ or tissue caused by a pathologic constriction or obstruction of its blood vessels, or an absence of blood circulation. Ischemic Cell Damage, ischemic colitis Ischemic colitis Inflammation of the colon due to colonic ischemia resulting from alterations in systemic circulation or local vasculature. Large Bowel Obstruction)
    • Hemorrhoids Hemorrhoids Hemorrhoids are normal vascular cushions in the anal canal composed of dilated vascular tissue, smooth muscle, and connective tissue. They do not cause issues unless they are enlarged, inflamed, thrombosed, or prolapsed. Patients often present with rectal bleeding of bright red blood, or they may have pain, perianal pruritus, or a palpable mass. Hemorrhoids: venous structures of the anorectum that engorge, prolapse, and bleed
  • Trauma
    • Anal fissure Anal fissure An anal fissure is a painful superficial tear of the epithelial lining (anoderm) of the anal canal. Anal fissures most often occur secondary to local trauma or irritation from constipation, diarrhea, anal intercourse, or perineal lacerations during childbirth. Anal Fissure: a small tear in the anal mucosa
  • Neoplasm
    • Colon Colon The large intestines constitute the last portion of the digestive system. The large intestine consists of the cecum, appendix, colon (with ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid segments), rectum, and anal canal. The primary function of the colon is to remove water and compact the stool prior to expulsion from the body via the rectum and anal canal. Colon, Cecum, and Appendix: Anatomy polyp
    • Colorectal cancer Colorectal cancer Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colorectal cancer is a heterogeneous disease that arises from genetic and epigenetic abnormalities, with influence from environmental factors. Colorectal Cancer
  • Inflammatory disease 
    • Infectious Infectious Febrile Infant colitis Colitis Inflammation of the colon section of the large intestine, usually with symptoms such as diarrhea (often with blood and mucus), abdominal pain, and fever. Pseudomembranous Colitis
    • Ulcerative colitis Colitis Inflammation of the colon section of the large intestine, usually with symptoms such as diarrhea (often with blood and mucus), abdominal pain, and fever. Pseudomembranous Colitis and Crohn’s disease: autoimmune inflammatory bowel diseases that cause inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation and ulcers 
  • Iatrogenic Iatrogenic Any adverse condition in a patient occurring as the result of treatment by a physician, surgeon, or other health professional, especially infections acquired by a patient during the course of treatment. Anterior Cord Syndrome
    • After biopsy Biopsy Removal and pathologic examination of specimens from the living body. Ewing Sarcoma or polypectomy
    • Radiation Radiation Emission or propagation of acoustic waves (sound), electromagnetic energy waves (such as light; radio waves; gamma rays; or x-rays), or a stream of subatomic particles (such as electrons; neutrons; protons; or alpha particles). Osteosarcoma colitis Colitis Inflammation of the colon section of the large intestine, usually with symptoms such as diarrhea (often with blood and mucus), abdominal pain, and fever. Pseudomembranous Colitis: radiation-induced inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation in the colon Colon The large intestines constitute the last portion of the digestive system. The large intestine consists of the cecum, appendix, colon (with ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid segments), rectum, and anal canal. The primary function of the colon is to remove water and compact the stool prior to expulsion from the body via the rectum and anal canal. Colon, Cecum, and Appendix: Anatomy
    • Aortoenteric fistula Fistula Abnormal communication most commonly seen between two internal organs, or between an internal organ and the surface of the body. Anal Fistula (rare, but serious)

Clinical Presentation

Clinical manifestations

  • Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with occult bleeding may be asymptomatic.
  • Symptoms of anemia Anemia Anemia is a condition in which individuals have low Hb levels, which can arise from various causes. Anemia is accompanied by a reduced number of RBCs and may manifest with fatigue, shortness of breath, pallor, and weakness. Subtypes are classified by the size of RBCs, chronicity, and etiology. Anemia: Overview and Types:
    • Fatigue Fatigue The state of weariness following a period of exertion, mental or physical, characterized by a decreased capacity for work and reduced efficiency to respond to stimuli. Fibromyalgia, weakness
    • Dyspnea Dyspnea Dyspnea is the subjective sensation of breathing discomfort. Dyspnea is a normal manifestation of heavy physical or psychological exertion, but also may be caused by underlying conditions (both pulmonary and extrapulmonary). Dyspnea
    • Pallor
    • Lightheadedness Lightheadedness Hypotension
    • Syncope Syncope Syncope is a short-term loss of consciousness and loss of postural stability followed by spontaneous return of consciousness to the previous neurologic baseline without the need for resuscitation. The condition is caused by transient interruption of cerebral blood flow that may be benign or related to a underlying life-threatening condition. Syncope
  • Abdominal pain Abdominal Pain Acute Abdomen or heartburn Heartburn Substernal pain or burning sensation, usually associated with regurgitation of gastric juice into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) → ulcers, gastritis Gastritis Gastritis refers to inflammation of the gastric mucosa. Gastritis may occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or slowly over time (chronic gastritis). Gastritis may be asymptomatic or with symptoms, including burning abdominal pain (which either worsens or improves with eating), dyspepsia, nausea, and vomiting. Gastritis, ischemia Ischemia A hypoperfusion of the blood through an organ or tissue caused by a pathologic constriction or obstruction of its blood vessels, or an absence of blood circulation. Ischemic Cell Damage
  • Coffee-ground emesis → UGIB
  • Hematemesis Hematemesis Vomiting of blood that is either fresh bright red, or older ‘coffee-ground’ in character. It generally indicates bleeding of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Mallory-Weiss Syndrome (Mallory-Weiss Tear) → UGIB
  • Melena (black, tarry stool)
  • Hematochezia (bright-red blood in stools) 
    • Usually seen in LGIB
    • Can be from brisk, large-volume UGIB
  • Weight loss Weight loss Decrease in existing body weight. Bariatric Surgery malignancy Malignancy Hemothorax

Physical exam

  • Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with mild or occult bleeding may not have significant findings.
  • Evidence of hemodynamic instability:
    • Tachycardia Tachycardia Abnormally rapid heartbeat, usually with a heart rate above 100 beats per minute for adults. Tachycardia accompanied by disturbance in the cardiac depolarization (cardiac arrhythmia) is called tachyarrhythmia. Sepsis in Children
    • Hypotension Hypotension Hypotension is defined as low blood pressure, specifically < 90/60 mm Hg, and is most commonly a physiologic response. Hypotension may be mild, serious, or life threatening, depending on the cause. Hypotension
    • Altered mental status Altered Mental Status Sepsis in Children
  • Orthostatic hypotension Orthostatic hypotension A significant drop in blood pressure after assuming a standing position. Orthostatic hypotension is a finding, and defined as a 20-mm hg decrease in systolic pressure or a 10-mm hg decrease in diastolic pressure 3 minutes after the person has risen from supine to standing. Symptoms generally include dizziness, blurred vision, and syncope. Hypotension: seen with acute blood loss of ≥ 2 units
  • Pale skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions color and conjunctiva Conjunctiva The mucous membrane that covers the posterior surface of the eyelids and the anterior pericorneal surface of the eyeball. Eye: Anatomy
  • Some may have abdominal tenderness (e.g., ischemia Ischemia A hypoperfusion of the blood through an organ or tissue caused by a pathologic constriction or obstruction of its blood vessels, or an absence of blood circulation. Ischemic Cell Damage).
  • Rectal exam:
    • Black or bloody stools
    • Normal, brown stool may be seen in occult bleeding
    • Hemorrhoids Hemorrhoids Hemorrhoids are normal vascular cushions in the anal canal composed of dilated vascular tissue, smooth muscle, and connective tissue. They do not cause issues unless they are enlarged, inflamed, thrombosed, or prolapsed. Patients often present with rectal bleeding of bright red blood, or they may have pain, perianal pruritus, or a palpable mass. Hemorrhoids
    • Anal fissure Anal fissure An anal fissure is a painful superficial tear of the epithelial lining (anoderm) of the anal canal. Anal fissures most often occur secondary to local trauma or irritation from constipation, diarrhea, anal intercourse, or perineal lacerations during childbirth. Anal Fissure
    • Rectal mass Mass Three-dimensional lesion that occupies a space within the breast Imaging of the Breast
  • Evaluate for signs of chronic liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy disease:
    • Spider Spider Arthropods of the class arachnida, order araneae. Except for mites and ticks, spiders constitute the largest order of arachnids, with approximately 37, 000 species having been described. The majority of spiders are harmless, although some species can be regarded as moderately harmful since their bites can lead to quite severe local symptoms. Spider Bites angiomata
    • Splenomegaly Splenomegaly Splenomegaly is pathologic enlargement of the spleen that is attributable to numerous causes, including infections, hemoglobinopathies, infiltrative processes, and outflow obstruction of the portal vein. Splenomegaly
    • Abdominal distension and ascites Ascites Ascites is the pathologic accumulation of fluid within the peritoneal cavity that occurs due to an osmotic and/or hydrostatic pressure imbalance secondary to portal hypertension (cirrhosis, heart failure) or non-portal hypertension (hypoalbuminemia, malignancy, infection). Ascites
    • Asterixis Asterixis Hepatic Encephalopathy

Diagnosis

Diagnosis and management of GIB tend to go hand-in-hand and will vary depending on the hemodynamic stability of the patient.

Laboratory evaluations

  • Complete blood count → anemia Anemia Anemia is a condition in which individuals have low Hb levels, which can arise from various causes. Anemia is accompanied by a reduced number of RBCs and may manifest with fatigue, shortness of breath, pallor, and weakness. Subtypes are classified by the size of RBCs, chronicity, and etiology. Anemia: Overview and Types from blood loss
    • Hemoglobin may initially be normal in acute bleeds.
    • Potential thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia occurs when the platelet count is < 150,000 per microliter. The normal range for platelets is usually 150,000-450,000/µL of whole blood. Thrombocytopenia can be a result of decreased production, increased destruction, or splenic sequestration of platelets. Patients are often asymptomatic until platelet counts are < 50,000/µL. Thrombocytopenia may be seen in cirrhosis Cirrhosis Cirrhosis is a late stage of hepatic parenchymal necrosis and scarring (fibrosis) most commonly due to hepatitis C infection and alcoholic liver disease. Patients may present with jaundice, ascites, and hepatosplenomegaly. Cirrhosis can also cause complications such as hepatic encephalopathy, portal hypertension, portal vein thrombosis, and hepatorenal syndrome. Cirrhosis.
  • Fecal occult blood testing → detect occult bleeding
  • Coagulation factors Coagulation factors Endogenous substances, usually proteins, that are involved in the blood coagulation process. Hemostasis → coagulopathy, which may need reversal
  • Liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy function tests → underlying liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver: Anatomy disease
  • Basic metabolic panel Basic Metabolic Panel Primary vs Secondary Headaches → ↑ BUN (blood urea Urea A compound formed in the liver from ammonia produced by the deamination of amino acids. It is the principal end product of protein catabolism and constitutes about one half of the total urinary solids. Urea Cycle nitrogen Nitrogen An element with the atomic symbol n, atomic number 7, and atomic weight [14. 00643; 14. 00728]. Nitrogen exists as a diatomic gas and makes up about 78% of the earth’s atmosphere by volume. It is a constituent of proteins and nucleic acids and found in all living cells. Urea Cycle) may signal upper GIB
  • Iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements, ferritin Ferritin Iron-containing proteins that are widely distributed in animals, plants, and microorganisms. Their major function is to store iron in a nontoxic bioavailable form. Each ferritin molecule consists of ferric iron in a hollow protein shell (apoferritins) made of 24 subunits of various sequences depending on the species and tissue types. Hereditary Hemochromatosis iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements deficiency

Imaging

  • Computed tomography with angiography Angiography Radiography of blood vessels after injection of a contrast medium. Cardiac Surgery ( CTA CTA A non-invasive method that uses a ct scanner for capturing images of blood vessels and tissues. A contrast material is injected, which helps produce detailed images that aid in diagnosing vascular diseases. Pulmonary Function Tests)
    • Bleeding rate of at least 0.3–0.5 mL/min required for detection
    • Utilizes intravenous (IV) contrast to localize hemorrhage
  • Radionuclide imaging
    • Bleeding rate of at least 0.1–0.5 mL/min required for detection
    • Most sensitive radiographic test 
    • Radioisotope is injected into the bloodstream to reveal sites of extravasation.

Procedures

  • Esophagoduodenoscopy (EGD)
    • Modality of choice in UGIB
    • Visualize the site of hemorrhage within the esophagus Esophagus The esophagus is a muscular tube-shaped organ of around 25 centimeters in length that connects the pharynx to the stomach. The organ extends from approximately the 6th cervical vertebra to the 11th thoracic vertebra and can be divided grossly into 3 parts: the cervical part, the thoracic part, and the abdominal part. Esophagus: Anatomy, stomach Stomach The stomach is a muscular sac in the upper left portion of the abdomen that plays a critical role in digestion. The stomach develops from the foregut and connects the esophagus with the duodenum. Structurally, the stomach is C-shaped and forms a greater and lesser curvature and is divided grossly into regions: the cardia, fundus, body, and pylorus. Stomach: Anatomy, or duodenum Duodenum The shortest and widest portion of the small intestine adjacent to the pylorus of the stomach. It is named for having the length equal to about the width of 12 fingers. Small Intestine: Anatomy.
    • Collect pathology specimens.
  • Colonoscopy Colonoscopy Endoscopic examination, therapy or surgery of the luminal surface of the colon. Colorectal Cancer Screening
    • Modality of choice in LGIB
    • Visualize the site of hemorrhage within the large intestine Large intestine The large intestines constitute the last portion of the digestive system. The large intestine consists of the cecum, appendix, colon (with ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid segments), rectum, and anal canal. The primary function of the colon is to remove water and compact the stool prior to expulsion from the body via the rectum and anal canal. Colon, Cecum, and Appendix: Anatomy and terminal ileum Ileum The distal and narrowest portion of the small intestine, between the jejunum and the ileocecal valve of the large intestine. Small Intestine: Anatomy.
    • Collect pathology specimens.
    • Colon Colon The large intestines constitute the last portion of the digestive system. The large intestine consists of the cecum, appendix, colon (with ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid segments), rectum, and anal canal. The primary function of the colon is to remove water and compact the stool prior to expulsion from the body via the rectum and anal canal. Colon, Cecum, and Appendix: Anatomy preparation is required.
  • Capsule Capsule An envelope of loose gel surrounding a bacterial cell which is associated with the virulence of pathogenic bacteria. Some capsules have a well-defined border, whereas others form a slime layer that trails off into the medium. Most capsules consist of relatively simple polysaccharides but there are some bacteria whose capsules are made of polypeptides. Bacteroides endoscopy Endoscopy Procedures of applying endoscopes for disease diagnosis and treatment. Endoscopy involves passing an optical instrument through a small incision in the skin i.e., percutaneous; or through a natural orifice and along natural body pathways such as the digestive tract; and/or through an incision in the wall of a tubular structure or organ, i.e. Transluminal, to examine or perform surgery on the interior parts of the body. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
    • Provides imaging of the small intestine Small intestine The small intestine is the longest part of the GI tract, extending from the pyloric orifice of the stomach to the ileocecal junction. The small intestine is the major organ responsible for chemical digestion and absorption of nutrients. It is divided into 3 segments: the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. Small Intestine: Anatomy
    • Patient swallows a wireless camera, which takes pictures along the digestive tract.
    • Most often used for continued or intermittent bleeding when EGD and colonoscopy Colonoscopy Endoscopic examination, therapy or surgery of the luminal surface of the colon. Colorectal Cancer Screening are unremarkable
  • Angiography Angiography Radiography of blood vessels after injection of a contrast medium. Cardiac Surgery
    • Bleeding rate of at least 0.51 mL/min is required for detection.
    • Reserved for patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship who cannot undergo endoscopy Endoscopy Procedures of applying endoscopes for disease diagnosis and treatment. Endoscopy involves passing an optical instrument through a small incision in the skin i.e., percutaneous; or through a natural orifice and along natural body pathways such as the digestive tract; and/or through an incision in the wall of a tubular structure or organ, i.e. Transluminal, to examine or perform surgery on the interior parts of the body. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) due to hemodynamic instability

Management

Initial steps

Assess the patient’s hemodynamics Hemodynamics The movement and the forces involved in the movement of the blood through the cardiovascular system. Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure and stabilize:

Medications

  • Proton pump inhibitors Proton Pump Inhibitors Compounds that inhibit h(+)-k(+)-exchanging ATPase. They are used as anti-ulcer agents and sometimes in place of histamine h2 antagonists for gastroesophageal reflux. Gastric Acid Drugs ( pantoprazole Pantoprazole 2-pyridinylmethylsulfinylbenzimidazole proton pump inhibitor that is used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux and peptic ulcer. Gastric Acid Drugs)
  • Octreotide Octreotide A potent, long-acting synthetic somatostatin octapeptide analog that inhibits secretion of growth hormone and is used to treat hormone-secreting tumors; diabetes mellitus; hypotension, orthostatic; hyperinsulinism; hypergastrinemia; and small bowel fistula. Antidiarrheal Drugs 
    • Somatostatin Somatostatin A 14-amino acid peptide named for its ability to inhibit pituitary growth hormone release, also called somatotropin release-inhibiting factor. It is expressed in the central and peripheral nervous systems, the gut, and other organs. SRIF can also inhibit the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone; prolactin; insulin; and glucagon besides acting as a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator. In a number of species including humans, there is an additional form of somatostatin, srif-28 with a 14-amino acid extension at the n-terminal. Gastrointestinal Secretions analog, which causes splanchnic vasoconstriction Vasoconstriction The physiological narrowing of blood vessels by contraction of the vascular smooth muscle. Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure
    • Used for esophageal bleeding

Interventions

  • Around 80% will stop bleeding without intervention.
  • EGD and colonoscopy Colonoscopy Endoscopic examination, therapy or surgery of the luminal surface of the colon. Colorectal Cancer Screening
    • Injection of epinephrine Epinephrine The active sympathomimetic hormone from the adrenal medulla. It stimulates both the alpha- and beta- adrenergic systems, causes systemic vasoconstriction and gastrointestinal relaxation, stimulates the heart, and dilates bronchi and cerebral vessels. Sympathomimetic Drugs around bleeding point 
    • Thermal hemostasis Hemostasis Hemostasis refers to the innate, stepwise body processes that occur following vessel injury, resulting in clot formation and cessation of bleeding. Hemostasis occurs in 2 phases, namely, primary and secondary. Primary hemostasis involves forming a plug that stops the bleeding temporarily. Secondary hemostasis involves the activation of the coagulation cascade. Hemostasis (electrocoagulation)
    • Endoclips
  • Angiography Angiography Radiography of blood vessels after injection of a contrast medium. Cardiac Surgery 
    • Vasoconstriction Vasoconstriction The physiological narrowing of blood vessels by contraction of the vascular smooth muscle. Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure via vasopressin 
    • Embolization
    • Procedure runs the risk of bowel ischemia Bowel ischemia Mesenteric ischemia is a rare, life-threatening condition caused by inadequate blood flow through the mesenteric vessels, which results in ischemia and necrosis of the intestinal wall. Mesenteric ischemia can be either acute or chronic. Mesenteric Ischemia or infarction.
  • Balloon tamponade Tamponade Pericardial effusion, usually of rapid onset, exceeding ventricular filling pressures and causing collapse of the heart with a markedly reduced cardiac output. Pericarditis
    • Used for esophageal varices
    • Tube is inserted into the esophagus Esophagus The esophagus is a muscular tube-shaped organ of around 25 centimeters in length that connects the pharynx to the stomach. The organ extends from approximately the 6th cervical vertebra to the 11th thoracic vertebra and can be divided grossly into 3 parts: the cervical part, the thoracic part, and the abdominal part. Esophagus: Anatomy, and balloon is inflated.
    • Provides short-term hemostasis Hemostasis Hemostasis refers to the innate, stepwise body processes that occur following vessel injury, resulting in clot formation and cessation of bleeding. Hemostasis occurs in 2 phases, namely, primary and secondary. Primary hemostasis involves forming a plug that stops the bleeding temporarily. Secondary hemostasis involves the activation of the coagulation cascade. Hemostasis until definitive treatment can be arranged.
  • Surgery 
    • Considered when bleeding cannot be contained through the above interventions (rare)
    • Localization of the source is important before pursuing surgery.

Special considerations

  • Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with cirrhosis Cirrhosis Cirrhosis is a late stage of hepatic parenchymal necrosis and scarring (fibrosis) most commonly due to hepatitis C infection and alcoholic liver disease. Patients may present with jaundice, ascites, and hepatosplenomegaly. Cirrhosis can also cause complications such as hepatic encephalopathy, portal hypertension, portal vein thrombosis, and hepatorenal syndrome. Cirrhosis and variceal bleeding should have antibiotic prophylaxis Antibiotic prophylaxis Use of antibiotics before, during, or after a diagnostic, therapeutic, or surgical procedure to prevent infectious complications. Surgical Infections to prevent spontaneous bacterial peritonitis Peritonitis Inflammation of the peritoneum lining the abdominal cavity as the result of infectious, autoimmune, or chemical processes. Primary peritonitis is due to infection of the peritoneal cavity via hematogenous or lymphatic spread and without intra-abdominal source. Secondary peritonitis arises from the abdominal cavity itself through rupture or abscess of intra-abdominal organs. Penetrating Abdominal Injury.
  • Reverse any anticoagulation Anticoagulation Pulmonary Hypertension Drugs.
  • Hold antihypertensive medications.

Differential Diagnosis

  • Epistaxis Epistaxis Bleeding from the nose. Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis: bleeding from the nasal mucosa Nasal mucosa The mucous lining of the nasal cavity, including lining of the nostril (vestibule) and the olfactory mucosa. Nasal mucosa consists of ciliated cells, goblet cells, brush cells, small granule cells, basal cells (stem cells) and glands containing both mucous and serous cells. Nose and Nasal Cavity: Anatomy. Blood may be swallowed and then vomited (appearing like hematemesis Hematemesis Vomiting of blood that is either fresh bright red, or older ‘coffee-ground’ in character. It generally indicates bleeding of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Mallory-Weiss Syndrome (Mallory-Weiss Tear)), or go through the GI tract and present in the stool. Careful history and examination of the nasal mucosa Nasal mucosa The mucous lining of the nasal cavity, including lining of the nostril (vestibule) and the olfactory mucosa. Nasal mucosa consists of ciliated cells, goblet cells, brush cells, small granule cells, basal cells (stem cells) and glands containing both mucous and serous cells. Nose and Nasal Cavity: Anatomy can identify the cause. Most nosebleeds Nosebleeds Bleeding from the nose. Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis are benign Benign Fibroadenoma and self-limited, but may require oxymetazoline Oxymetazoline A direct acting sympathomimetic used as a vasoconstrictor to relieve nasal congestion. Rosacea nasal spray, cauterization, or nasal packing Nasal Packing Toxic Shock Syndrome
  • Food and medication: Some foods or medications can cause false positive False positive An FP test result indicates that a person has the disease when they do not. Epidemiological Values of Diagnostic Tests fecal occult testing, including beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, grapefruit, red meat, and iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements pills. Bismuth can cause black, spearing stools that are fecal occult negative. Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship should avoid these foods and medications 48 hours prior to fecal occult blood testing. 
  • Hemoptysis Hemoptysis Hemoptysis is defined as the expectoration of blood originating in the lower respiratory tract. Hemoptysis is a consequence of another disease process and can be classified as either life threatening or non-life threatening. Hemoptysis can result in significant morbidity and mortality due to both drowning (reduced gas exchange as the lungs fill with blood) and hemorrhagic shock. Hemoptysis: coughing up blood from the airway Airway ABCDE Assessment or pulmonary structures. Causes include lung cancer Lung cancer Lung cancer is the malignant transformation of lung tissue and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The majority of cases are associated with long-term smoking. The disease is generally classified histologically as either small cell lung cancer or non-small cell lung cancer. Symptoms include cough, dyspnea, weight loss, and chest discomfort. Lung Cancer, infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease, pulmonary edema Edema Edema is a condition in which excess serous fluid accumulates in the body cavity or interstitial space of connective tissues. Edema is a symptom observed in several medical conditions. It can be categorized into 2 types, namely, peripheral (in the extremities) and internal (in an organ or body cavity). Edema, and vasculitides Vasculitides Vasculitides are a group of conditions characterized by vasculitis, ischemia, and damage to the organs supplied by the affected vessels. The affected arteries are of different sizes and locations and vary by the type of vasculitis. Vasculitides. Testing the pH pH The quantitative measurement of the acidity or basicity of a solution. Acid-Base Balance of the fluids may be helpful, since an alkaline pH pH The quantitative measurement of the acidity or basicity of a solution. Acid-Base Balance is indicative of airway Airway ABCDE Assessment bleeding and GI tract bleeding will be acidic. Imaging of the chest to look for underlying lung pathology is also useful. Treatment includes airway Airway ABCDE Assessment protection and identification Identification Defense Mechanisms and treatment of the underlying problem.

References

  1. Strate, L. (2020). Approach to acute lower gastrointestinal bleeding in adults. In Grover, S. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-acute-lower-gastrointestinal-bleeding-in-adults
  2. Strate, L. (2019). Etiology of lower gastrointestinal bleeding in adults. In Grover, S. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/etiology-of-lower-gastrointestinal-bleeding-in-adults
  3. Saltzman, J.R. (2020). Approach to acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding in adults. In Travis, A.C. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-acute-upper-gastrointestinal-bleeding-in-adults
  4. Rockey, D.C. (2020). Causes of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in adults. In Travis, A.C. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/causes-of-upper-gastrointestinal-bleeding-in-adults
  5. Upchurch, III, B.R. (2019). Upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB). In Anand, B.S. (Ed.), Medscape. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/187857-overview
  6. Cagir, B., Ologun, G.O., Chico, G.F., Cirincione, E., and Manas, K.J. (2019). Lower gastrointestinal bleeding. In Anand, B.S. (Ed.), Medscape. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/188478-overview
  7. Ansari, P. (2019). Overview of gastrointestinal bleeding. [online] MSD Manual Professional Edition. https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/gastrointestinal-bleeding/overview-of-gastrointestinal-bleeding

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