Vascular malformations of the gastrointestinal tract may be diagnosed at any age. They may present with bleeding, anaemia, or if they form a mass lesion, with intussusception. Many lesions remain asymptomatic. In a minority of patients there are well-defined genetic conditions present, such as hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia. In others, particularly the angiodysplastic lesions that occur in the caecum in elderly patients, the lesions appear to be degenerative. Vascular malformations may affect any section of the gastrointestinal tract, and in some patients there are vascular anomalies elsewhere, particularly in the skin. Diagnosis is usually based on recognition endoscopically, or at angiography. Symptomatic lesions that are discrete and localized respond well to local treatment with laser or heat coagulation or sclerotherapy. Mass lesions, diffuse lesions and severe bleeding may require surgery.
Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.