Rectal Bleeding – A Symptom for Many Digestive Diseases

The Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

Patients turn to The Center for Inflammatory Bowel and Colorectal Diseases at Mercy in Baltimore for the diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases. 

Rectal bleeding can be a symptom of many digestive diseases and the colorectal specialists at Mercy are regarded among the best doctors in the region to diagnose and treat digestive disease.

About the Condition

Rectal bleeding can occur anywhere in the digestive tract. Rectal bleeding is often a symptom of another digestive disease that can either be managed or corrected. 

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Rectal bleeding can be caused by:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Tumors and polyps
  • Constipation
  • Rectal fissure – a tear in the rectum lining caused by the passage of hard stools
  • Diverticulosis – bulging of the bowel, or colon, wall that occurs due to a decrease of fiber in the diet
  • Infection or bacterial dysentery
  • Inflammation
  • Angiodysplasia – a vascular problem that involves enlarged veins and capillaries in the wall of the right colon which can become fragile and bleed
  • Trauma

To diagnose rectal bleeding, a test to detect for blood in stool can be conducted. An endoscopy also may be performed so that the source of the rectal bleeding can be found. 

NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

After the cause of the rectal bleeding is diagnosed, the condition is treatable. An endoscopy is used not only to diagnose rectal bleeding but also used to treat rectal bleeding. Through the endoscope:

  • Chemicals can be injected directly into the site to stop the bleeding
  • The bleeding area can be treated with heat, or cauterized, to stop the bleeding
  • A clip can be placed on a bleeding blood vessel

When rectal bleeding is severe or recurrent, surgery may be needed to correct the bleeding. After rectal bleeding is controlled, medications can be prescribed to prevent further bleeding.