Angiodysplasia of the Colon

(Colonic Angiodysplasia, Arteriovenous Malformations [AVM] of the Colon)
  • Definition

    Angiodysplasia of the colon occurs when enlarged and fragile blood vessels in the colon 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 can be caused by:
    • Increased age
    • Colon spasms that enlarge blood vessels in the area
  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk of angiodysplasia of the colon include:
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of angiodysplasia of the colon may include:
    • Bleeding from the rectum
    • Anemia
    • Weakness
    • Fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
    • Dark, tarry stools
  • 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
    Your internal structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:
  • Treatment

    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:
    Colonoscopy
    Your doctor can often burn tissues with heat to seal bleeding blood vessels during a colonoscopy.
    Angiography
    The blood supply to the bleeding area can be clotted through angiography.
    Medical Therapy
    Hormonal therapy with estrogen can be helpful for some causes.
    Surgery
    Surgery to remove the affected area of the colon may sometimes be necessary.
  • Prevention

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

    AGS Foundation for Health in Aging http://www.healthinaging.org

    National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Association of Gastroenterology http://www.cag-acg.org

    Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca

    References

    Angiodysplasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated October 30, 2012. Accessed July 26, 2013.

    American Gastroenterological Association. AGA guideline: evaluation and management of occult and obscure gastrointestinal bleeding. Gastroenterology . 2000;118:197.

    Revision Information

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