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Radiographics. 2013 Sep-Oct;33(5):1453-70. doi: 10.1148/rg.335125072.

Multidetector CT angiography for acute gastrointestinal bleeding: technique and findings.

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  • 1Departments of Radiology, Miguel Servet University Hospital, Paseo de Isabel La Católica 1-3, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain.


Acute gastrointestinal bleeding is a common reason for emergency department admissions and an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Factors that complicate its clinical management include patient debility due to comorbidities; intermittence of hemorrhage; and multiple sites of simultaneous bleeding. Its management, therefore, must be multidisciplinary and include emergency physicians, gastroenterologists, and surgeons, as well as radiologists for diagnostic imaging and interventional therapy. Upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding is usually managed endoscopically, with radiologic intervention reserved as an alternative to be used if endoscopic therapy fails. Endoscopy is often less successful in the management of acute lower gastrointestinal tract bleeding, where colonoscopy may be more effective. The merits of performing bowel cleansing before colonoscopy in such cases might be offset by the resultant increase in response time and should be weighed carefully against the deficits in visualization and diagnostic accuracy that would result from performing colonoscopy without bowel preparation. In recent years, multidetector computed tomographic (CT) angiography has gained acceptance as a first-line option for the diagnosis and management of lower gastrointestinal tract bleeding. In selected cases of upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding, CT angiography also provides accurate information about the presence or absence of active bleeding, its source, and its cause. This information helps shorten the total diagnostic time and minimizes or eliminates the need for more expensive and more invasive procedures.

© RSNA, 2013.

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