Blood in the Stool (Rectal Bleeding) (cont.)
Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.
In this Article
- Rectal bleeding (blood in stool) facts
- What does rectal bleeding (blood in stool) mean?
- What are causes of blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
- What diseases and conditions can cause blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
- Anal fissures
- Colon cancer and polyps
- Colitis and proctitis
- Meckel's diverticulum
- Rare causes of rectal bleeding
- When should I call a doctor for blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
- How is the cause of blood in the stool (rectal bleeding) diagnosed?
- History and physical examination
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Radionuclide scans
- Visceral angiogram
- Video capsule and small intestine enteroscopy
- MRI and CT tomographic angiography
- Nasogastric tube aspiration
- Blood tests
- What is the treatment for rectal bleeding (blood in the stool)?
- Can rectal bleeding (blood in the stool) be prevented?
- What is the prognosis of rectal bleeding (blood in the stool)?
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
If there is major concern about bleeding coming from the stomach or duodenum, an esophagogastricduodenoscopy (EGD) can be done using an endoscope similar to the endoscope used for colonoscopy.
Blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) and iron levels in the blood play no role in locating the site of gastrointestinal bleeding; however, the CBC and blood iron levels may help to determine whether bleeding is acute or chronic, since an anemia (low red blood cell count) associated with iron deficiency suggests chronic bleeding over many weeks or months. Gastrointestinal conditions commonly causing iron deficiency anemia include colon polyps, colon cancers, colon angiodysplasias, and chronic colitis.
When a patient loses a large amount of blood suddenly, as with moderate or severe acute rectal bleeding, the lost blood is replaced by fluid from the body's tissues. This influx of fluid dilutes the blood and leads to anemia (a reduced concentration of red blood cells). It takes time, however, for the tissue fluid to replace the lost blood within the blood vessels. Therefore, soon after a sudden large episode of bleeding, there may be no anemia. It takes many hours and even a day or more for the anemia to develop as tissue fluid slowly dilutes the blood. For this reason, a red blood cell count early after bleeding is not reliable for estimating the severity of the bleeding.
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