Diagnosis of gastrointestinal bleeding: A practical guide for clinicians

World J Gastrointest Pathophysiol. 2014 Nov 15;5(4):467-78. doi: 10.4291/wjgp.v5.i4.467.


Gastrointestinal bleeding is a common problem encountered in the emergency department and in the primary care setting. Acute or overt gastrointestinal bleeding is visible in the form of hematemesis, melena or hematochezia. Chronic or occult gastrointestinal bleeding is not apparent to the patient and usually presents as positive fecal occult blood or iron deficiency anemia. Obscure gastrointestinal bleeding is recurrent bleeding when the source remains unidentified after upper endoscopy and colonoscopic evaluation and is usually from the small intestine. Accurate clinical diagnosis is crucial and guides definitive investigations and interventions. This review summarizes the overall diagnostic approach to gastrointestinal bleeding and provides a practical guide for clinicians.

Keywords: Angiography; Capsule endoscopy; Colonoscopy; Computed tomography; Diagnostic techniques; Endoscopy; Enteroscopy; Gastrointestinal hemorrhage.

Publication types

  • Review