Angiodysplasia of the Colon

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

Definition

Angiodysplasia of the colon is when blood vessels in the colon (large intestine) enlarge. They may become weak and result in bleeding in the digestive system.

Normal Anatomy of the Intestines
Normal Anatomy of the Large and Small Intestine

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Causes

The exact cause is not known. It may be part of the aging process.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Chronic kidney failure
  • History of digestive bleeding
  • Heart disease

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Problems breathing

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Blood and stool may be tested.

The internal structures of the body may need to be viewed. This can be done with:

Treatment

Treatment may not be needed. The problem often goes away on its own. People who do need treatment may have:

  • A colonoscopy that uses heat to seal bleeding blood vessels
  • Angiography to clot the blood supply to the bleeding
  • Medicines called somatostatin analogs to prevent bleeding
  • Surgery to remove part of the colon

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent this problem.

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 website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/gastrointestinal-angiodysplasia. Accessed October 22, 2020.

Jackson CS, Gerson LB. Management of gastrointestinal angiodysplastic lesions (GIADs): a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014 Apr;109(4):474-483.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD  Last Updated: 10/22/2020