Diseases of the Colon & Rectum

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 428–432 | Cite as

Diffuse microscopic angiodysplasia—A previously unreported variant of angiodysplasia

Report of a case
  • Leonard B. Weinstock
  • Richard S. Larson
  • David J. Stahl
  • James W. Fleshman
Case Report


PURPOSE: The entity of diffuse microscopic angiodysplasia is described, and a patient with severe gastrointestinal hemorrhage because of this submucosal source of bleeding is reported. METHOD: Case records of a patient with severe gastrointestinal hemorrhage were reviewed, and histologic findings were compared with colonoscopic and operative findings. The patient received 51 units of packed red blood cells over 3.5 months and remained undiagnosed, despite an exhaustive evaluation, until autopsy. RESULTS: Ectatic veins, venules, and capillaries were present within the submucosa in virtually every section of the small and large intestine examined (79 of 86 sections). Histologic evidence of bleeding from these submucosal vessels was identified in three sites (colon, jejunum, and ileum). The absence of endoscopically visible lesions was explained by findings that vessels did not traverse the muscularis mucosa and that mucosal depth was normal. This case of diffuse microscopic angiodysplasia, therefore, represents a unique variant, because the vascular findings were so diffuse and the mucosa remained histologically and endoscopically uninvolved, despite severe bleeding. CONCLUSION: Gastrointestinal bleeding from angiodysplasia is generally assumed to arise from endoscopically recognizable vascular ectasia within the mucosa. Thus, this case helps provide an explanation for some cases in which occult or massive bleeding is assumed to be secondary to angiodysplasia,even when endoscopic verification is not possible. Recognition of this disease process may require segmental resection or deep biopsy of endoscopically normal intestine.

Key words

Gastrointestinal bleeding Angiodysplasia Endoscopy Gastrointestinal bleeding, colectomy for 


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Copyright information

© American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonard B. Weinstock
    • 1
  • Richard S. Larson
    • 2
  • David J. Stahl
    • 2
  • James W. Fleshman
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of MedicineWashington University School of MedicineSt. Louis
  2. 2.Department of PathologyWashington University School of MedicineSt. Louis
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryWashington University School of MedicineSt. Louis
  4. 4.Department of SurgeryJewish Hospital of St. LouisSt. Louis

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