Today's Practice of Medicine
February 1982

Gastrointestinal Tract Bleeding of Unknown Origin

Author Affiliations

From the Gastroenterology Section, Medical Service, Veterans Administration Medical Center (Drs Spechler and Schimmel); and the Divisions of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine (Drs Spechler and Schimmel) and Tufts University Medical School (Dr Schimmel), Boston.

Arch Intern Med. 1982;142(2):236-240. doi:10.1001/archinte.1982.00340150036009

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract bleeding of unknown origin is a vexing clinical problem. In this review, we discuss those causes of GI tract hemorrhage most likely to escape detection by conventional diagnostic modalities and explain how newer techniques of flexible fiberoptic endoscopy, radionuclide scanning, and angiography may be used to establish a diagnosis. We reviewed the literature on the role of exploratory surgery in the diagnosis of occult GI tract bleeding and conclude that its diagnostic yield is small and its value limited. Finally, we present a diagnostic approach to the patient with GI tract bleeding of unknown origin.

(Arch Intern Med 1982;142:236-240)