Bleeding Ulcer

What is a bleeding ulcer?

A bleeding ulcer occurs when blood is shed from the upper digestive tract, partially digested, and released as black melana stools.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bleeding ulcer?

Signs and symptoms of a bleeding ulcer include:

  • fresh bleeding;
  • a nose bleed;
  • paleness of skin;
  • sluggishness;
  • shortness of breath; and
  • dizziness.

Occasionally in an older person where significant other diseases are present such as diabetes, coronary artery disease of the heart, and renal or heart failure, it might be that the main symptoms on arrival at the hospital are the symptoms of the heart attack induced by the anemia from the upper gastrointestinal bleed (GI bleed).

How is a bleeding ulcer diagnosed?

The physician will make a clinical diagnosis and may request an emergency endoscopy in order to detect the source of the upper GI bleed.

How is a bleeding ulcer treated?

General stabilizing measures such as starting two intravenous lines, replacing fluid loss and, in the case of severe anemia, replacement of blood loss through transfusions is required for treatment.

An unconscious patient may have to be intubated to prevent aspiration of vomited material into the lungs. A general surgeon is required in cases where the bleeding cannot be stopped. Occasionally part of the stomach may have to be removed (partial gastrectomy) in the case of a bleeding gastric ulcer or a bleeding duodenal ulcer the surgeon may have to use sutures to stop the bleeding.