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Acute lower gastrointestinal bleeding in 1,112 patients admitted to an urban emergency medical center

      Background

      This study was performed to elucidate the etiology, effectiveness of diagnostic and therapeutic modalities, and outcomes in patients with acute lower gastrointestinal bleeding.

      Methods

      A retrospective review of the medical records of 1,112 consecutive patients admitted to the surgical service of a single urban emergency hospital with lower gastrointestinal bleeding from 1988 to 2006. Two groups were compared: 1988–1997 and 1998–2006.

      Results

      All patients underwent colonoscopy, 33.2% within 24 h of admission. Hematochezia was the most frequent presentation (55.5%), followed by maroon stool (16.7%) and melena (11.0%). Most patients, 690 (62.1%) also had upper endoscopy. Sixty-six patients subsequently had barium enemas. Eleven of 27 nuclide scans were positive. Arteriography was performed on 22 patients, with 11 positive results and 2 therapeutic. No statistical difference was found in procedures performed in our 2 time periods. Diverticulosis (33.5%), hemorrhoids (22.5%), and carcinoma (12.7%) were the most common etiologies with the diagnosis of diverticulosis more common in the 1998–2006 time period. The small bowel was the source in 14 total patients. Spontaneous cessation of the bleeding occurred in 863 (77.6%) patients. Endoscopic control increased from 1% in 1997–1998 to 4.4% in 1998–2006 (P < .05) with a corresponding decrease in the need for operative control from 22.6% to 16.6% in this same time period (P < .05). Furthermore, among elective operations, there was a decrease in right hemicolectomies from 31.6% of total elective cases to 13.9% (P < .05). Emergent operations were needed in 3.4% and 4.8% of patients. The readmission rate did not change over time and was 5.2% overall with >50% because of diverticular bleeding.

      Conclusion

      In this urban setting, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and carcinoma were the most common causes of severe acute lower gastrointestinal bleeding (LGIB) with diverticular bleed causing the highest recurrence. Colonoscopy allows for diagnosis in most patients with severe acute LGIB requiring hospitalization. Furthermore, it is now being used more effectively for hemostasis resulting in less operative intervention to control bleeding.
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