If you’re dealing with fatigue, shortness of breath or are passing blood in your stool, there’s a chance that you’re dealing with an abnormality with a blood vessel in your gastrointestinal tract. These abnormalities are called angiodysplasia, and they can occur anywhere in your GI tract, from your mouth and esophagus to your colon and rectum and anywhere in between. Below, we take a closer look at how these blood vessel abnormalities are diagnosed and treated with the help of a gastrointestinal specialist like Dr. Bhatti.
Causes And Symptoms Of Angiodysplasia
Medical experts don’t know the exact cause of angiodysplasia, but there are certain risk factors that can contribute to their formation or increase a person’s risk of developing a blood vessel issue within your GI tract. Oftentimes they develop very slowly over many years due to the natural spasming that occurs during the digestive process, which is why age is a common risk factor for their onset. Heart-related issues are also believed to increase their risk, like having a history of heart disease or regularly taking an anticoagulant or blood thinner medication.
We touched on some of the symptoms in the intro, but here’s a more comprehensive list of symptoms that you may experience if a blood vessel issue is causing problems within your GI tract:
- Rapid heart bear
- Shortness of breath
- Red, black or tarry stools
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you’ll want to consult with a GI specialist or an emergency room physician sooner rather than later so that the blood vessel can be addressed before it leads to more serious issues.
Diagnosing And Treating Angiodysplasia
If you’re presenting with any of the above symptoms, your doctor may conduct a few different diagnostic tests to look for the presence of a blood vessel issue. An upper endoscopy, a colonoscopy, an angiogram or a stool test can all provide more answers about what’s going on in your GI tract, and it can help to determine the best plan for moving forward with treatment.
As you might imagine, treatment will be specific to the individual based on the precise location of the blood vessel. For minor bleeds, sometimes all that is required is watchful waiting, as the body is capable of repairing these minor vessel issues on its own. If it’s unlikely that the blood vessel issue will heal on its own, a minimally invasive procedure may be recommended. Here’s a closer look at some procedures that are commonly performed to address a blood vessel issue within the GI tract:
- Angiography – This involves using a thin plastic tube to deliver medicine directly to the bleeding blood vessel. This medicine helps to stop the bleeding.
- Cauterizing – Your doctor may use an endoscope to navigate to the location of the bleed and cauterize the vessel, which in turn stops the bleeding.
- Surgery – Depending on the location of the bleeding, surgery to remove part of your colon may be recommended.
Treatment tends to be very successful when the issue is caught in an early stage, so don’t ignore the warning signs of angiodysplasia. The issue is more common than you realize in older adults, but it doesn’t have to be a major problem if you are proactive about treatment and trust your care to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants. For more information or for help with a different GI issue, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and his team today at (952) 368-3800.