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Angiodysplasia of the Colon

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

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
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

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

Risk Factors    TOP

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    TOP

Symptoms of angiodysplasia of the colon may include:

  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis    TOP

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:

Treatment    TOP

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    TOP

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

Surgery    TOP

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

Prevention    TOP

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

RESOURCES:

American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging
http://www.healthinaging.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
http://www.niddk.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
https://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
http://www.cdhf.ca

References:

Gastrointestinal angiodysplasia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated July 14, 2015. Accessed September 27, 2016.
6/19/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Jackson CS, Gerson LB. Management of gastrointestinal angiodysplastic lesions (GIADs): A systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014;109(4):474-483.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 6/19/2014

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