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Rectal Bleeding

Rectal Bleeding Overview

The rectum is the last portion of the large bowel that ends just before the anus. Bleeding from this area can be mild or serious, even life-threatening. The presence of rectal bleeding must be carefully checked because it indicates something is wrong.

  • Rectal bleeding is frequently noticed as maroon stools, bright red blood on or in the stool, blood on the toilet tissue, or blood staining the toilet bowl water red. Bleeding from further up in the gastrointestinal tract results in black, tarry stools.
  • Rectal bleeding is commonly associated with other potentially dangerous abdominal disorders. Most cases of rectal bleeding warrant a visit to a physician for evaluation.
  • Depending on the source of bleeding (which may be from any part of the gastrointestinal tract), treatment can range from relief of symptoms to antibiotics, blood transfusion, or surgery. It is important to locate the source of rectal bleeding so that appropriate treatment can be started and fix the cause of the problem.

Picture of the Colon Anatomy and From Areas Where Rectal Bleeding Arises

Rectal Bleeding Causes

There are a variety of causes of rectal bleeding. Common causes include hemorrhoids, anal fissure, diverticulosis, infection, inflammation (IBD, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), angiodysplasia. Other causes of rectal bleeding include polyps, tumors, trauma, an upper gastrointestinal source, and Meckel diverticulum (a rare condition that occurs in less than 2% of the population.)

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Rectal Prolapse »

Rectal prolapse occurs when a mucosal or full-thickness layer of rectal tissue slides through the anal orifice.

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