Gastrointestinal Bleeding

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Gastrointestinal Bleeding (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding may occur in any part of your digestive tract. This includes your esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum, or anus. The bleeding may or may not be seen easily. Bleeding may be sudden and last only a short time, or it may go on for a long time and occur more than once.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Blood loss from GI bleeding may worsen other health problems, such as heart or breathing problems. Some diseases or conditions that cause GI bleeding may be life-threatening. A large amount of blood loss may also be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent:

This is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Activity:

You may need to rest in bed until your GI bleeding is controlled. Your caregiver will tell you when it is OK to get out of bed. Call your caregiver before you get up for the first time. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away. Then call your caregiver.

IV:

An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

  • Antiulcer medicine helps decrease stomach acid.

  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.

  • Blood pressure medicine may be given in an IV to help improve your blood pressure.

  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

Tests:

  • Blood tests may be done to see how well your blood clots, and to get information about your overall health.

  • X-rays of your stomach and intestines may be done to look for the cause of your GI bleeding, such as a blockage in your intestines. You may be given a chalky liquid to drink before the pictures are taken. This liquid helps your stomach and intestines show up better on the x-rays.

  • A barium enema is an x-ray of your colon. A tube is put into your anus, and a liquid called barium is put through the tube. Barium is used so that caregivers can see your colon more clearly.

  • An abdominal ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of your abdomen on a monitor.

  • An angiogram is used to look for the location of your bleeding. Contrast dye is injected into an artery and x-rays of your blood flow are taken. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • An anoscopy is used to look inside your anus and rectum. A plastic or metal tube is gently pushed into your anus and up into the rectum. Your caregiver can look through the anoscope for a cause of your bleeding. Samples of bowel movement can also be taken and sent to the lab for tests.

  • An endoscopy is a procedure used to find the cause of your bleeding. An endoscope is a bendable tube with a light and camera on the end. Samples may be taken from your digestive tract and sent to a lab for tests.

  • A nuclear medicine scan may be done if you have slow bleeding. X-rays of your digestive tract are taken. Before the pictures are taken, you are given a safe amount of radioactive dye. The dye is given through an IV in your vein. The dye helps bleeding or other problems show up better in the pictures.

  • A sample of your bowel movement is sent to a lab for tests. The test may show what germ is causing your illness.

Treatment:

  • Treatment during endoscopy may be given. During an endoscopy, your caregiver may be able to stop certain kinds of bleeding. For example, a medicine may be given at the bleeding site. Heat or an electrical current may be applied to seal off a blood vessel. Other procedures, such as blood vessel banding, may also be used during an endoscopy. Banding uses a small metal or plastic band or clip to close off a bleeding vessel.

  • A blood transfusion is a procedure used to give you whole or parts of blood through an IV. Donated blood is tested for diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, to be sure it is safe.

  • A nasogastric tube may be put into your nose. The tube passes through your throat and is guided into your stomach. The tube will be attached to a suction device that removes air and fluid from your stomach.

  • Surgery may be needed to stop your bleeding. The kind of surgery you may need depends on the location of your bleeding. If your bleeding is serious, you may need emergency surgery.

  • The TIPS procedure places a stent in a vein near the liver. A stent is a wire mesh tube that helps keep blood vessels open. A TIPS procedure may help decrease the risk of bleeding in the esophagus.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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