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
Rare causes of rectal bleeding
Rarely, rapid and severe bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract (for example, ulcers of the stomach or duodenum) can cause bright red rectal bleeding. Other rare causes include leaking of blood into the gastrointestinal tract when a blood vessel ruptures. This may occur when an ulcer of the gastrointestinal tract erodes into a nearby artery or when an arterial graft, for example, an aortic graft used to repair an aortic aneurysm, erodes into the gastrointestinal tract. Even more rare is bleeding from a rectal ulcer, or tumors of the small intestine.
When should I call a doctor for blood in the stool (rectal bleeding)?
Any blood in the stool is not normal and should be reported to your health care professional. However, there are certain circumstances that might be considered an emergency and medical care should be accessed immediately. These situations include:
- Black, tarry stools may be due to bleeding from the esophagus, stomach or duodenum (upper gastrointestinal [GI] tract). This is especially a potentially serious concern in patients with liver disease and/or portal hypertension who have esophageal varices. This is a potential life threatening situation.
- Maroon color stool may be caused by an upper GI bleed or a bleeding source in the small intestine.
- Lightheadedness, weakness, fainting (syncope), chest pain or shortness of breath may be symptoms of significant blood loss.
- Bleeding that is associated with fever and abdominal pain.
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