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Blood in the Bowel Motion

What is Rectal Bleeding?

Bleeding from the back passage can be caused by bleeding from anywhere in the GI tract. As a general rule black, tarry motions suggest an upper GI source (eg. stomach ulcer) whereas red / maroon coloured stools suggest a lower GI or colonic source of the bleeding (eg. haemorrhoids)It is important to note that “normal”bowel motions are usually brown.

What are the next steps?

Bleeding from the back passage is a serious symptom that requires further investigation to work out the cause. The most common causes are haemorrhoids and anal fissures (a split in the anal sphincter). Other causes include bowel cancer, bowel polyps, diverticulosis (pockets off the bowel), angiodysplasia (abnormal blood vessels),colitis (large bowel/colonic inflammation) or gastrointestinal infection.

The first step in evaluation of bleeding from the back passage is a rectal examination. Further testing with blood/stool tests or endoscopy (gastroscopy/colonoscopy) may be required depending on your individual circumstances.

Management of this problem will be directed at the cause of the bleeding. This will be discussed with you in more detail by your specialist.