Angiodysplasia of the colon

Alternative Names

Vascular ectasia of the colon; Colonic arteriovenous malformation; Colonic angiomas

Definition of Angiodysplasia of the colon

Angiodysplasia of the colon is enlarged and fragile blood vessels in the colon that result in occasional loss of blood from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Angiodysplasia of the colon is mostly related to the aging and degeneration of the blood vessels. It usually occurs in older adults.

Symptoms

The symptoms vary. Often, in elderly patients, the symptoms are weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath due to anemia. There may not be any signs of bleeding directly from the colon. Others may have occasional mild or severe bleeding episodes with bright red blood coming from the rectum.

Signs and tests

Tests that may be done to diagnose this condition include:

Treatment

When a person is bleeding from the colon, it is important to determine the source of the bleeding and how fast they are losing blood. The patient’s condition must be evaluated continuously and may need to be admitted to a hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). Fluids may be given through a vein, and blood products may be required.

Expectations (prognosis)

Patients who have bleeding related to this condition despite having had colonoscopy, angiography, or surgery are likely to have more bleeding in the future.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 1/28/2009

Digestive system organs

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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