Lower gastrointestinal bleeding-Computed Tomographic Angiography, Colonoscopy or both?

World J Emerg Surg. 2017 Jan 3;12:1. doi: 10.1186/s13017-016-0112-3. eCollection 2017.


Background: Lower endoscopy (LE) is the standard diagnostic modality for lower gastrointestinal bleeding (LGIB). Conversely, computed tomographic angiography (CTA) offers an immediate non-invasive diagnosis visualizing the entire gastrointestinal tract. The aim of this study was to compare these 2 modalities with regards to diagnostic value and bleeding control.

Methods: Tertiary center retrospective analysis of consecutive patients admitted for LGIB between 2006 and 2012. Comparison of patients with LE vs. CTA as first exam, respectively, with emphasis on diagnostic accuracy and bleeding control.

Results: Final analysis included 183 patients; 122 (66.7%) had LE first, while 32 (17.5%) had CTA; 29 (15.8%) had neither of both exams. Median time to CTA was shorter compared to LE (3 (IQR = 8.2) vs. 22 (IQR = 36.9) hours, P < 0.001). Active bleeding was identified in 31% with CTA vs. 15% with LE (P = 0.031); a non-actively bleeding source was found by CTA and LE in 22 vs. 31%, respectively (P = 0.305). Bleeding control required endoscopy in 19%, surgery in 14% and embolization in 1.6%, while 66% were treated conservatively. Post-interventional bleeding was mostly controlled by endoscopic therapy (57%). 80% of patients with active bleeding on CTA required surgery.

Conclusions: Post-interventional LGIB was effectively addressed by LE. For other causes of LGIB, CTA was efficient, and more available than colonoscopy. Treatment was conservative for most patients. In case of active bleeding, CTA could localize the bleeding source and predict the need for surgery.

Keywords: Colonoscopy; Computed tomographic angiography; Endoscopy; Gastrointestinal hemorrhage.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonoscopy / adverse effects
  • Colonoscopy / methods
  • Colonoscopy / standards*
  • Computed Tomography Angiography / adverse effects
  • Computed Tomography Angiography / methods
  • Computed Tomography Angiography / standards*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies