Diagnosis of Gastrointestinal bleeding
Diagnostic Test list for Gastrointestinal bleeding:
The list of medical tests
mentioned in various sources as
used in the diagnosis of Gastrointestinal bleeding
Tests and diagnosis discussion for Gastrointestinal bleeding:
The site of the bleeding must be located. A
complete history and physical examination are essential. Symptoms such as
changes in bowel habits, stool color (to black or red) and consistency,
and the presence of pain or tenderness may tell the doctor which area of
the GI tract is affected. Because the intake of iron or foods such as
beets can give the stool the same appearance as bleeding from the
digestive tract, a doctor must test the stool for blood before offering a
diagnosis. A blood count will indicate whether the patient is anemic and
also will give an idea of the extent of the bleeding and how chronic it
Endoscopy is a common diagnostic technique that allows
direct viewing of the bleeding site. Because the endoscope can detect
lesions and confirm the presence or absence of bleeding, doctors often
choose this method to diagnose patients with acute bleeding. In many
cases, the doctor can use the endoscope to treat the cause of bleeding as
The endoscope is a flexible instrument that can be inserted through the
mouth or rectum. The instrument allows the doctor to see into the
esophagus, stomach, duodenum (esophago-duodenoscopy), colon (colonoscopy),
and rectum (sigmoidoscopy); to collect small samples of tissue (biopsies);
to take photographs; and to stop the bleeding.
Small bowel endoscopy, or enteroscopy, is a new procedure using a long
endoscope. This endoscope may be introduced during surgery to localize a
source of bleeding in the small intestine.
Several other methods are available to locate the
source of bleeding. Barium x-rays, in general, are less accurate than
endoscopy in locating bleeding sites. Some drawbacks of barium x-rays are
that they may interfere with other diagnostic techniques if used for
detecting acute bleeding; they expose the patient to x-rays; and they do
not offer the capabilities of biopsy or treatment.
Angiography is a technique that uses dye to highlight blood vessels.
This procedure is most useful in situations when the patient is acutely
bleeding such that dye leaks out of the blood vessel and identifies the
site of bleeding. In selected situations, angiography allows injection of
medicine into arteries that may stop the bleeding.
Radionuclide scanning is a noninvasive screening technique used for
locating sites of acute bleeding, especially in the lower GI tract. This
technique involves injection of small amounts of radioactive material.
Then, a special camera produces pictures of organs, allowing the doctor to
detect a bleeding site.
In addition, barium x-rays, angiography, and radionuclide scans can be
used to locate sources of chronic occult bleeding. These techniques are
especially useful when the small intestine is suspected as the site of
bleeding since the small intestine may not be seen easily with endoscopy. (Source: excerpt from Bleeding in the Digestive Tract: NIDDK)