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Angiodysplasia of the Colon

(Colonic Angiodysplasia, Arteriovenous Malformations [AVM] of the Colon)

En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention


Angiodysplasia of the colon occurs when enlarged and fragile blood vessels in the colon result in occasional bleeding in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Normal Anatomy of the Intestines

Normal Anatomy of the Large and Small Intestine
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Angiodysplasia of the colon can be caused by:

  • Increased age
  • Colon spasms that enlarge blood vessels in the area

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your risk of angiodysplasia of the colon include:


Symptoms of angiodysplasia of the colon may include:

  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dark, tarry stools


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your bodily fluids and waste may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Stool tests

Your internal structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment may not be necessary, since about 90% of cases of angiodysplasia of the colon stop bleeding on their own. Treatment options include the following:

Your doctor can often burn tissues with heat to seal bleeding blood vessels during a colonoscopy.

The blood supply to the bleeding area can be clotted through angiography.

Hormonal therapy with estrogen can be helpful for some causes.

Surgery to remove the affected area of the colon may sometimes be necessary.


There is no known way to prevent angiodysplasia of the colon.


AGS Foundation for Health in Aging


National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse



Canadian Association of Gastroenterology


Canadian Digestive Health Foundation



Angiodysplasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 30, 2012. Accessed July 26, 2013.

American Gastroenterological Association. AGA guideline: evaluation and management of occult and obscure gastrointestinal bleeding. Gastroenterology. 2000;118:197.

Last reviewed July 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD; Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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