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Angiodysplasia of the gastrointestinal tract

Marcos C Pedrosa, MD, MPH
Section Editor
Lawrence S Friedman, MD
Deputy Editor
Anne C Travis, MD, MSc, FACG, AGAF


Aberrant blood vessels are frequently found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, where they are probably more common than anywhere else in the body. Some are present from birth or develop as part of inherited syndromes, but the vast majority are acquired later in life. The reasons for the distortion of vascular structures observed with advancing age are poorly understood.

Inconsistent taxonomy of vascular anomalies in the GI tract, along with a common presentation of GI bleeding from different vascular abnormalities, has led to significant confusion in the medical literature [1,2]. The diagnosis of a vascular anomaly can be based upon endoscopic findings, histologic characteristics, or association with systemic diseases.

Vascular anomalies can be divided into three broad categories:

Vascular tumors or angiomas, which can be benign (such as hemangiomas) or malignant (such as Kaposi sarcoma or angiosarcoma).

Vascular anomalies associated with congenital or systemic diseases such as blue rubber bleb nevus syndrome, Klippel-Trénaunay-Weber syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, the CREST variant of scleroderma, and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasias (Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome).

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 07, 2016.
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