What Is Occult Gastrointestinal Bleeding?
Occult gastrointestinal bleeding is characterized by unseen or minute quantities of blood in stool. The origin of bleeding is from mucosa that lines the inside of the digestive tract at a site that must be found by medical testing and procedures to look at the lining.
Q: What tests and procedures are performed to locate the bleeding?
A: The simplest test to discover blood that cannot be seen is the stool test. This consists of a card with 3 spaces for 3 separate stool collection over 3 separate days. A tiny smear of stool is placed on a test card space on each of three days. Then the card is examined for a reaction that indicates the existence of blood in the stool.
If the stool test is positive, the origin of bleeding must be located. This search requires certain procedures that look at the mucosal lining directly by a gastroenterologist, usually under light sedation.
- Gastroscopy procedure can visualize the upper gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus and stomach.
- Endoscopy procedure can also visualize the upper small intestine. However, endoscopy procedure is limited in that it cannot visualize the middle small intestine (jejunum).
- Colonoscopy can visualize the end of the small intestine and colon all the way to the rectum.
- Capsule endoscopy procedure. If gastroendoscopy and colonoscopy fail to discover the source of bleeding, the physician may administer a capsule endoscopy which visualizes the entire gastrointestinal tract. In this procedure, the patient swallows a capsule size camera (encased) which takes constant pictures over the course of a day until expelled through the rectum. Of course, the patient must be able to swallow the large size capsule.
What Is Occult Gastrointestinal Bleeding In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?
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