Angiodysplasia, a disease for which the optimal treatment is uncertain, is a frequent cause of lower intestinal bleeding among older patients. To study the natural history of angiodysplasia and compare the efficacy of medical therapy, endoscopic electrocoagulation, and surgery, the course of 101 patients evaluated from 1974 through 1983 at the Massachusetts General Hospital was reviewed. Angiodysplasia caused bleeding that ranged from occult blood in stools to massive hemorrhage and was also observed incidentally in nonbleeding patients. Patients were followed for up to 10 years (mean of 22 months). Rebleeding was defined as evidence of hemorrhage requiring hospital admission, transfusion, or surgery. Thirty-one patients were treated surgically, 19 patients were treated endoscopically, and 36 patients were treated medically. Using life table analysis we observed similar rebleeding rates among medically and endoscopically treated groups. The surgically treated group had a frequency of rebleeding less than half that of the other groups (P=0.15). A multivariate regression analysis failed to identify any factors other than coagulopathy to explain the different incidence of rebleeding in the patients treated by endoscopic electrocoagulation and surgery.
- lower gastrointestinal bleeding