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Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is caused by abnormalities in the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, including the small and large intestines. Changes to the intestinal lining can be caused by several conditions. The bleeding can be slow and unnoticeable, or fast (hemorrhage) with obvious signs of blood in the stool.

Many cases of small bowel bleeding are the result of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). AVMs are tiny clusters of blood vessels where arteries and veins are intertwined. Most people with AVMs never know they have the condition. Others experience symptoms as they age or as the result of taking medicines to treat heart valve abnormalities and kidney disease. Gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) and benign and malignant small bowel tumors also cause GI bleeding. Other causes of GI bleeding include polyps and ulcers.

Occult GI bleeding typically means your body loses a small amount of blood every day. Over time, this can cause anemia, dizziness and heart palpitations. When the source of the bleeding is not found by using upper endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy, balloon enteroscopy is used to examine parts of your small bowel that are difficult to reach.

At Indiana University Health, we use single balloon and double balloon enteroscopy procedures to diagnose and treat GI bleeding. Our enteroscopy services are pioneering new uses and therapies to treat your bleeding and reduce and manage your symptoms. 

Tumors, polyps, ulcers and other abnormalities in the lining of your intestines can cause chronic gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding that over time can make you feel weak and cause anemia.

These abnormalities can be the result of cancers, medicines taken to treat other ailments and/or part of existing conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms of GI bleeding include:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Blood in stools
  • Hemorrhage

If you are experiencing symptoms of anemia, this could indicate gastrointestinal bleeding. At Indiana University Health, we are equipped with the latest technology to find the source of the bleeding and stop it.

Our balloon enteroscopy program is the only one in Indiana performing double balloon or deep enteroscopy. The five-year-old program also offers a hybrid procedure using deep enteroscopy and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to treat and diagnose patients with altered gastrointestinal anatomy that is the result of a bariatric surgery.

Our affiliation with the IU School of Medicine and the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology gives us access to many gastrointestinal experts and a multidisciplinary approach when it comes to diagnosing and treating your gastrointestinal bleeding. 

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Gastrointestinal Bleeding Treatment Information

As one of the top national programs in balloon enteroscopy, we provide safe and effective treatment for gastrointestinal bleeding. At IU Health, our physicians are leaders in research and clinical trials, which enables us to give you the most advanced treatments available. In some instances, therapy with a balloon-assisted scope can help you avoid surgery.

When the cause of your bleeding cannot be pinpointed by endoscopy, your gastroenterologist may use double balloon enteroscopy to find the source of your bleeding. This procedure lets your physician examine parts of your small bowel that are difficult to reach. A double balloon enteroscopy uses a long tube equipped with a camera that pushes deeper into your intestines as the attached balloons inflate and deflate. This is the only procedure that allows your doctor to view the deep portions of the small intestine.

In double balloon or deep enteroscopy, one balloon inflates while the other deflates creating a push-pull effect that advances the endoscope further into the small intestine. This allows for a more precise grabbing and gathering of the small intestine. The outpatient procedure is performed under general anesthesia and may be combined with additional gastroenterology studies if needed. Balloon enteroscopy usually takes two hours.

Balloon enteroscopy is used to examine, diagnose and treat the bleeding. If lesions are found, they can be cauterized immediately. Tumors and biopsies can be removed and the location of an abnormality can be marked for future surgery.


Gastrointestinal Bleeding Locations & Physicians

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Gastrointestinal Bleeding Support Services

Learn more about gastrointestinal bleeding treatments at these websites: