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Angiodysplasia of the Gastrointestinal Tract

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is angiodysplasia of the gastrointestinal tract?

Angiodysplasia occurs when blood vessels in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract become swollen. The swelling can weaken the blood vessels and cause bleeding. Angiodysplasia can occur in any part of the GI tract, but most often occurs in the colon.

What causes or increases my risk for angiodysplasia?

The exact cause of angiodysplasia is not known. Normal movements in your colon can cause your blood vessels to swell. Over time, the swelling can cause an abnormal connection between arteries and veins. This is called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). An AVM causes the walls of the vein to weaken and leak blood. Older age (60 years and older) increases your risk for angiodysplasia. Certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease and von Willebrand disease, also increases your risk.

What are the signs and symptoms of angiodysplasia?

You may not have any signs or symptoms. You may have bleeding from your rectum or blood in your bowel movements that come and go. Over time, this blood loss can lead to anemia. Anemia is a low number of red blood cells. This prevents your body from carrying enough oxygen to your body. Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.

How is angiodysplasia diagnosed?

How is angiodysplasia treated?

You may not need any treatment. The bleeding may stop on its own. You may need any of the following:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

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