Diagnosis and management of gastrointestinal bleeding in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia

Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jan;98(1):59-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2003.07185.x.


Objective: Our aim was to report our experience with treating GI bleeding in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT).

Methods: Consecutive patients with GI bleeding referred to the Yale University Vascular Malformation Center underwent clinical evaluation and endoscopy. Hb and blood transfusion requirements for 1 yr before and after evaluation were documented. Patients with a mean Hb <or= 8 mg/dl or blood transfusion requirements >or= 12 units packed red blood cells (PRBC)/yr were defined as patients with significant bleeding. Drug therapies, including ethinyl estradiol/norethindrone, danazol, and aminocaproic acid, were prescribed on an individual patient basis.

Results: The study included 43 HHT patients with a mean age of 57 yr. Endoscopy revealed telangiectases in the esophagus (1/41), stomach (33/41), duodenum (33/41), jejunum (5/9), and colon (10/32). Patients with > 20 telangiectases visualized on esophagogastroduodenoscopy had a significantly lower mean Hb of 7.9, compared with 9.4 (p = 0.007), and a trend toward higher blood transfusion requirements. Non-HHT-related causes of GI bleeding were diagnosed in four patients. During a mean follow up of 18.9 months, the group of 40 patients with HHT-related bleeding had improvements in their mean Hb and blood transfusion requirements.

Conclusions: Some HHT patients with GI bleeding improve on drug therapies, but others fail. Transfusion-dependent GI bleeding is difficult to manage, and optimal management may include both medical and endoscopic treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telangiectasia, Hereditary Hemorrhagic / complications*