Alternate Names : Lower GI bleeding, GI bleeding, Upper GI bleeding
Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding refers to any bleeding that starts in the gastrointestinal tract, which extends from the mouth to the anus.
The amount of bleeding can range from nearly undetectable to acute, massive, and life threatening.
Bleeding may come from any site along the GI tract, but is often divided into:
- Upper GI bleeding: The upper GI tract is located between the mouth and the upper part of the small intestine.
- Lower GI bleeding: The lower GI tract is located between the upper part of the small intestine and the anus. The lower GI tract includes the small and large bowels.
Overview & Considerations
GI bleeding can range from microscopic bleeding (the amount of blood is so small that it can only be detected by laboratory testing) to massive bleeding (pure blood is passed).
It is important to be aware of GI bleeding, because it may point to many significant diseases and conditions. Prolonged microscopic bleeding can lead to loss of iron, causing anemia. Acute, massive bleeding can lead to hypovolemia, shock, and even death.
GI bleeding can occur at any age from birth on. The degree and suspected location of the bleeding determines what tests should be performed to find the cause. Once a bleeding site is identified, many therapies are available to stop the bleeding.
Some of the possible causes of GI bleeding include:
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