Gastrointestinal Bleeding

About Gastrointestinal bleeding

Gastrointestinal(GI) bleeding is a serious medical condition that needs attention.And the bleeding happens within your digestive tract. Your digestivetract comprises of the following organs

  1. Stomach

  2. Esophagus

  3. Small intestine including duodenum

  4. Large intestine, also known as the Colon

  5. Rectum and

  6. Anus

Bleeding can occur from any of these organs. If the bleeding is from your esophagus, stomach and the upper half of your small intestine, it isknown as an Upper GI bleeding and if it’s from the the lowerportion of your small intestine, large intestine, rectum or anus, itis known as the lower GI bleeding. The bleed can occur as aninsignificantly small amount of blood that keeps oozing out of yourintestinal or digestive tract or else it can be a life-threateninghemorrhage.

Causes forGastro Intestinal bleeding

There are twotypes of GI bleeding, as already discussed in the introductoryparagraph. One is the upper GI bleeding and the other one is lower GIbleeding.

The common causes for an upper GI bleeding are as follows

  • Peptic Ulcers

  • Esophageal varices – veins in the inner wall of the esophagus can enlarge and rupture

  • Mallory - Weiss tear in the esophagus - can happen due to incessant vomiting

  • Cancer of the stomach or esophagus

Lower GIbleeding

The common causes associated with a lower GI bleeding are

  • Colitis (formation of ulcers within your large intestine or Colon)

  • Diverticulosis

  • Inflammatory bowel disease namely Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

  • Hemorrhoids are nothing but enlarged veins in your rectum or anus. These can rupture and cause bleeding

Symptoms of GIbleeding

These are thefollowing symptoms, which you will experience on account of GIbleeding. They are

  • Dark or tarry stools (if the blood is coming from the upper GI tract or from your stomach)

  • Vomiting blood or coffee brown liquid

  • Passage of bright red blood along with stools

  • Paleness or anemia due to unseen blood loss

  • Fatigue

Diagnosis ofGI bleeding

These are thediagnostic evaluations, pertaining to GI bleeding. The list follows:

Blood tests

Blood tests will let your doctor know if you have anemia. Sudden or long standing slowblood loss can cause anemia.


In order toexamine your upper intestinal tract, an endoscope, which is nothingbut a thin as well as a flexible tube is passed down your throat.Your doctor can view the entire stomach, esophagus and upper half ofyour small intestine and find out the potential causes of bleed andsometimes the bleed can be controlled by endoscopic techniques.


In order to examine your entire colon (large intestine) and rectum, acolonoscope with a video camera fitted to the end, is passed throughyour anus. This confirms the reason for bleeding in your lowerdigestive tract and similarly the site of bleed can be controlledwith special clips or injections.

CT Scan andAngiography

In case there iscontinuous trickle of bleed a CT scan with angiography will helpidentify the exact site of bleed. Here a special type of injectionis given in your veins to pin point the site of bleed. Many a timebleed can be controlled with special substances used duringangiography


As mentionedabove most of the time, endoscopic or angiographic techniques areable to control the bleed.

Surgery would be needed if the patient is bleeding profusely or if the bleed is due tosurgically correctable cause like stomach or colon cancer ordiverticulosis colon.

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