Public Release: 

Study identifies a distinct type of common gastrointestinal bleeding

Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina and elsewhere have found a previously unidentified condition during their investigation of patients with new symptoms or signs of acute bleeding in the setting of chronic gastrointestinal bleeding

Medical University of South Carolina

A unique bleeding syndrome associated with cirrhosis and portal hypertension has been identified by researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Wake Forest University Medical Center, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in an article published online on April 21, 2017 by the Journal of Investigative Medicine. The syndrome is characterized by typical presentation with acute bleeding (hematemesis, melena, or hematochezia) and also the presence of chronic gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, documented as iron deficiency anemia. The investigators have coined a term for the syndrome: acute on chronic bleeding.

"This is recognition of a common syndrome of which practicing physicians should be aware," says Principal Investigator Don C. Rockey, M.D., first author on the article, who serves as the chair of the Department of Medicine and professor of gastroenterology at MUSC.

Of the 1,460 patients with GI bleeding involved in the study, 430 (29 percent) were found to have acute on chronic GI bleeding. The bleeding in patients with upper GI bleeding was most often a result of portal hypertensive upper GI tract pathology.

The investigators advise that clinicians confronted with patients who have acute on chronic bleeding should be aware of the association of this presentation with cirrhosis and portal hypertension for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

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About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 13,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.2 billion. MUSC operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (a National Cancer Institute designated center) Level I Trauma Center, and Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit musc.edu. For more information on hospital patient services, visit muschealth.org.

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