Definition

Angiodysplasia of the colon occurs when blood vessels in the colon (large intestine) enlarge. They may become fragile and result in occasional bleeding in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Normal Anatomy of the Intestines

Normal Anatomy of the Large and Small Intestine

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Causes

Angiodysplasia of the colon is caused by dilated connections between veins and capillaries or arteries in the colon.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of angiodysplasia of the colon include:

    
  • Increasing age
  • Heart problems
  • History of blood vessel problems or GI tract bleeding
  • Kidney problems
  • A blood disorder called von Willebrands disease
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of angiodysplasia of the colon may include:

        
  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • 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
  • Imaging tests help evaluate internal structures. Some may use contrast material to make them easier to see. Imaging tests may include:

        
  • Colonoscopy
  • Upper GI endoscopy
  • Capsule endoscopy
  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Angiography
  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment may not be necessary, since nearly all of cases of angiodysplasia of the colon stop bleeding on their own. Treatment options include the following:

    Colonoscopy

    Your doctor can often treat tissues with heat to seal bleeding blood vessels during a colonoscopy. Rebleeding is common.

    Angiography

    The blood supply to the bleeding area can be clotted through angiography.

    Medical Therapy

    Medications called somatostatin analogs may be used to prevent bleeding in some people.

    Surgery

    Surgery to remove the affected area of the colon may sometimes be necessary.

    Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent angiodysplasia of the colon.