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Rectal Bleeding

How Is Rectal Bleeding Diagnosed?

It's important to locate the site of the rectal bleeding. A complete history and physical examination are an essential part of making a diagnosis. Symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, stool color (from black to red, for example) and consistency, and the presence of pain or tenderness may tell the doctor which area of the GI tract is affected.
 
Since eating iron-rich foods, bismuth (Pepto-Bismol®), 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 person is anemic and also will give an idea of the extent of the rectal bleeding and how chronic it may be.
 
Endoscopy
Endoscopy is a common diagnostic technique that allows the doctor to see the site of rectal bleeding. Because the endoscope can detect lesions and confirm the presence or absence of bleeding, doctors often choose this method to make a diagnosis of acute rectal bleeding. In many cases, the endoscope can be used to treat the cause of rectal bleeding as well.
 
The endoscope is a flexible instrument that can be inserted through the mouth or rectum. It allows the doctor to see into the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, and rectum. The endoscope also allows the doctor to collect small samples of tissue (biopsies), to take photographs, and to stop the bleeding.
 
Small bowel endoscopy, or enteroscopy, is a procedure that uses a long endoscope. This endoscope may be used to pinpoint unidentified sources of rectal bleeding in the small intestine.
 
A new diagnostic instrument called a capsule endoscope is swallowed by the person. The capsule contains a tiny camera that transmits images to a video monitor. It is used most often to find bleeding in portions of the small intestine that are hard to reach with a conventional endoscope.

Rectal Bleed

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