Health Library

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.

Revision Information

  • AGS Foundation for Health in Aging

    http://www.healthinaging.org

  • National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

    http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov

  • Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

    http://www.cag-acg.org

  • Canadian Digestive Health Foundation

    http://www.cdhf.ca

  • 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.