Surgical Treatment Concepts for Acute Lower Gastrointestinal Bleeding

  • Ralf Czymek
  • Alexander Kempf
  • Uwe Johannes Roblick
  • Franz Georg Bader
  • Jens Habermann
  • Peter Kujath
  • Hans-Peter Bruch
  • Frank Fischer
original article


Background and purpose

To this day, the diagnostic and therapeutic strategy for acute lower gastrointestinal hemorrhage requiring transfusion varies among different hospitals. The purpose of this paper was to evaluate our own data on the group of patients presented and to outline our diagnostic and therapeutic regime taking into account the literature of the past 30 years.


Following prospective data collection on 63 patients of a university hospital (40 male, 23 female patients) who received surgical intervention for acute lower intestinal hemorrhage requiring transfusion, we retrospectively analyzed the data. After a medical history had been taken, all patients underwent clinical examination, including digital palpation; 62 patients underwent procto-rectoscopy, 38 gastroscopy and colonoscopy, 52 patients colonoscopy only, and 45 patients gastroscopy only. Angiography was applied in 14 cases and scintigraphy in 20 cases.


Diagnostic procedures to localize hemorrhage were successful in 61 cases, 41 of which through endoscopy, 12 through angiography, and eight through scintigraphy. Of our group of patients, 32 suffered from a bleeding colonic diverticulum, eight from angiodysplasia, and five from bleeding small bowel diverticula. Five patients had inflammatory bowel disease and three neoplasia. Among the surgical interventions, segmental resections were performed most frequently (15 sigmoidectomies, 11 small bowel segmental resections, 11 left hemicolectomies, seven right hemicolectomies, one proctectomy). Subtotal colectomies were carried out in ten cases. The complication rate for this group of critically ill, negatively selected patients was 60.3% and the mortality rate was 15.9%.


Examination and stabilization of the patient is directly followed by diagnostic localization. Today, we primarily rely on nonsurgical control of hemorrhage by endoscopy or angiography; the indication for surgery is mainly limited to peracute, uncontrollable, and recurrent forms. In the case of surgery, intestinal segmental resection is recommended after identification of the lesion; if the localization of colonic hemorrhage is uncertain, subtotal resection is the method of choice. For stable patients with unverifiable small-bowel hemorrhage we recommend regular re-evaluation.


Lower gastrointestinal bleeding Therapeutic strategies Endoscopy Angiography Surgery 


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralf Czymek
    • 1
  • Alexander Kempf
    • 1
  • Uwe Johannes Roblick
    • 1
  • Franz Georg Bader
    • 1
  • Jens Habermann
    • 1
  • Peter Kujath
    • 1
  • Hans-Peter Bruch
    • 1
  • Frank Fischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity of Lübeck Medical SchoolLübeckGermany

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