Lower gastrointestinal bleeding in elderly patients

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2003 Nov-Dec;4(6):320-2. doi: 10.1097/01.JAM.0000094061.76412.75.


Lower gastrointestinal bleeding (LGIB) is one of the common medical emergencies that can become life-threatening in elderly patients. Increased prevalence of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases, malignancy, polypharmacy, and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in elderly patients adversely affects the outcome of LGIB. Diverticular bleeding, vascular ectasia, polyps and hemorrhoids are among the common causes of LGIB in the elderly. In a majority of cases, LGIB stops spontaneously with resuscitation and supportive therapy. In those elderly patients in whom LGIB continues, benefits of endoscopic, angiographic, or surgical intervention should not be withheld because of age alone. However, the timing of tests and the type of intervention should be custom tailored for frail elderly patients. Such a decision should depend upon functional status, its impact on outcome, and the consent process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged*
  • Algorithms
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Colonoscopy
  • Comorbidity
  • Decision Trees
  • Embolization, Therapeutic
  • Frail Elderly
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage* / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage* / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage* / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Resuscitation / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal