Diagnosis and management of lower gastrointestinal bleeding

Department of Internal Medicine III, Klinikum Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany.
Nature Reviews Gastroenterology &#38 Hepatology (Impact Factor: 12.61). 11/2009; 6(11):637-46. DOI: 10.1038/nrgastro.2009.167
Source: PubMed


Lower gastrointestinal bleeding (LGIB) can present as an acute and life-threatening event or as chronic bleeding, which might manifest as iron-deficiency anemia, fecal occult blood or intermittent scant hematochezia. Bleeding from the small bowel has been shown to be a distinct entity, and LGIB is defined as bleeding from a colonic source. Acute bleeding from the colon is usually less dramatic than upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage and is self-limiting in most cases. Several factors might contribute to increased mortality, a severe course of bleeding and recurrent bleeding, including advanced age, comorbidity, intestinal ischemia, bleeding as a result of a separate process, and hemodynamic instability. Diverticula, angiodysplasias, neoplasms, colitis, ischemia, anorectal disorders and postpolypectomy bleeding are the most common causes of LGIB. Volume resuscitation should take place concurrently upon initial patient assessment. Colonoscopy is the diagnostic and therapeutic procedure of choice, for acute and chronic bleeding. Angiography is used if colonoscopy fails or cannot be performed. The use of radioisotope scans is reserved for cases of unexplained intermittent bleeding, when other methods have failed to detect the source. Embolization or modern endoscopy techniques, such as injection therapy, thermocoagulation and mechanical devices, effectively promote hemostasis. Surgery is the final approach for severe bleeding.

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    ABSTRACT: IntroductionGastrointestinal bleeding is a common life-threatening problem, causing significant mortality, costs and resource allocation. Its management requires a dynamic multidisciplinary approach that directs diagnostic and therapeutic priorities appropriately. Materials and methodsArticles published within the past 15 years, related to gastrointestinal bleeding, were reviewed through MEDLINE search, in addition to current guidelines and standards. ResultsDecisions of ICU admission and blood transfusion must be individualized based on the extent of bleeding, hemodynamic profile and comorbidities of the patient and the risk of rebleeding. A secure airway may be required to optimize oxygenation and to prevent aspiration. Doses of induction agents must be reduced due to the changes in volume of distribution. Volume replacement is the cornerstone of resuscitation in profuse bleeding, but nontargeted aggressive fluid resuscitation must be avoided to allow clot formation and to prevent increased bleeding. Decision to give blood transfusion must be based on physiologic triggers rather than a fixed level of hemoglobin. Coagulopathy must be corrected and hypothermia avoided. Need for massive transfusion must be recognized as early as possible, and a 1:1:1 ratio of packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma and platelets is recommended to prevent dilutional coagulopathy. Tromboelastography can be used to direct hemostatic resuscitation. Transfusion related lung injury (TRALI) is a significant problem with a mortality rate approaching 40%. Prevention of TRALI is important in patients with gastrointestinal bleeding, especially among patients having end-stage liver disease. Preventive strategies include prestorage leukoreduction, use of male-only or never-pregnant donors and avoidance of long storage times. Management of gastrointestinal bleeding requires delicately tailoring resuscitation to patient needs to avoid nonspecific aggressive resuscitation. “Functional hemodynamic monitoring” requires recognition of indications and limitations of hemodynamic measurements. Dynamic indices like systolic pressure variation are more reliable predictors of volume responsiveness. Noninvasive methods of hemodynamic monitoring and cardiac output measurement need further verification in patients with gastrointestinal bleeding. ConclusionsManagement of gastrointestinal bleeding requires a dynamic multidisciplinary approach. The mentioned advances in management of hemorrhagic shock must be considered in resuscitation and monitoring of patients with GI bleeding. KeywordsGastrointestinal bleeding–Massive transfusion–Hemodynamic monitoring–Intensive care
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