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Rectal bleeding (blood in stool) facts
Rectal bleeding is the passage of blood through the anus.
The bleeding may result in bright
red blood in the stool as well as maroon colored or black stool. The bleeding also may
be occult (not visible with the human eye).
The common causes of rectal
bleeding from the colon include
colon cancer and
colonic polyp removal,
Rectal bleeding also may be seen with bleeding that is
coming from higher in the instestinal tract, from the stomach, duodenum, or small intestine.
Rectal bleeding may not be painful;
however, other symptoms that may accompany rectal bleeding are diarrhea, and abdominal cramps due to the blood in the stool.
Rectal bleeding is commonly
evaluated and treated by gastroenterologists and colorectal or general
surgeons. The origin of rectal bleeding is
determined by history and physical examination, anoscopy, flexible
sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, radionuclide scans, visceral angiograms,
flexible endoscopy or capsule endoscopy of the small intestine, and
Rectal bleeding is managed first by
correcting the low blood volume and anemia if present with blood
transfusions and then, determining the site and cause of the bleeding, stopping the
bleeding, and preventing future rebleeding.
Rectal bleeding can be prevented if
the cause of the bleeding can be found and definitively treated, for
example, by removing the bleeding polyp or tumor. In addition, it may be appropriate to search for additional abnormalities, for example,
polyps or angiodysplasias that have not yet bled but may do so in the
future. This may require either gastrointestinal endoscopy or surgery.