Rectal Bleeding

What is Rectal Bleeding?

Rectal bleeding is the passage of fresh blood from the rectum. The blood will appear red in color and may show up on stool or on toilet paper.

Rectal bleeding can be a symptom of something minor, like hemorrhoids, or something more serious, like colorectal cancer.

Minor rectal bleeding will show up as a few drops of blood on stool or toilet paper. More serious bleeding is signified by profuse amounts of blood or by stool that appears black or maroon in color.

Rectal bleeding has a number of possible causes.

Common causes of rectal bleeding can include:

  • Anal fissures
  • Colon polyps
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Constipation
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colorectal cancer

Rarely, rapid and severe bleeding from stomach ulcers can also cause rectal bleeding.

Diagnosis begins with a brief medical history and physical examination which is followed by clinical tests, such as:

  • Anoscopy
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Radionuclide scans
  • Angiograms
  • Blood tests

During the tests your physician will identify the location and the cause of rectal bleeding in order to determine an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment plans for rectal bleeding include:

  • Identification of the cause and location of bleeding through procedures like a colonoscopy
  • Treatment of anemia and low blood volume: Administration of intravenous fluids and blood transfusion is done to replenish the lost blood. Iron supplements should be taken for a long term as a treatment of anemia
  • Stopping active rectal bleeding and preventing further bleeding using;
    • Hemorrhoidal creams and stool softeners
    • Cauterization during colonoscopy
    • Visceral angiograms to infuse medications into blood vessels which constricts them and stops bleeding
    • Surgery to excise the source of bleeding, which can be diverticulosis, polyps, or cancer
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