ZocdocAnswersWhat could cause bloody stools?

Question

What could cause bloody stools?

my husband has been to lots of doctors and hospitals since september of 2012. he keep complaining that is upper right ribs/ side hurt also has severe bloody stools. sometimes he passes out or complains that his energy level dropped dramtically. When we go to the hospital they give him different diagnosis each time the first time was inflamed pancreas so they removed his appendix next it was acute gastroenteritis, and acute pancreatic-is then IBS, next ulcers on his stomach, they really don't know what is wrong with him and he is filling up the toilet with nothing but blood i really need help he has had colonastrophy/ endeoosphy ( scope down throat and rectum.) also been to gastroenteritis they don't see anything wrong. what it going on with him

Answer

I am sorry to hear about your husband's troubles. Recurrent bleeding from the GI tract can be a frustrating and dangerous medical problem. He should continue working with physicians to discover the source of his bleeding, although he may require more advanced diagnostic techniques. Briefly, bleeding can come from the upper or lower GI tract. Upper GI bleeds often present with "coffee ground" vomit and/or black, tarry stools (called melena). Lower GI bleeds usually cause bright red blood from the rectum or grossly bloody stools. However, if an upper GI bleed is brisk enough, it may also result in grossly bloody stools. Your husband's pain in the right upper abdomen, if associated with his bleeding, is concerning for a possible ulcer (the most common upper GI bleeding source). An upper endoscopy would usually be able to see an ulcer directly. Likewise, a colonoscopy might be able to identify several common causes of lower GI bleeding, such as diverticular sources, vascular malformations, or colon cancer (which rarely causes severe bleeding, by the way). The challenge with GI bleeding is that it can be difficult to "catch it in the act." Many GI bleeds start abruptly and can stop almost as quickly. If the endoscopy procedures do not happen at the right time, it can be easy to miss the source. To further complicate matters, there is a large section of small bowel that cannot be easily visualized by either upper endoscopy or colonoscopy, and GI bleeding from these areas may be hard to localize. Your husband likely has an obscure GI bleed, and there are a number of more advanced techniques that you and your husband should consider discussing with his physicians. If he is actively bleeding, repeat endoscopies may be useful. To visualize more of the small bowel, a push enteroscopy can be performed. If these are unrevealing, a video capsule study can evaluate the small intestine in further detail. Finally, special scans can look for Meckel's diverticulum, and interventional radiologists can "tag" red blood cells and see where they travel in the GI tract during a bleed. If the bleeding is persistent and severe despite these measures, surgery remains a last resort option. Again, he should continue working with physicians. This can be a very frustrating problem and I wish you and your husband the best of luck in finding a final diagnosis!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.