In Focus

Definitive diverticular hemorrhage: Diagnosis and management


Outcomes following endoscopic treatment

Following endoscopic treatment, patients should be monitored for early and late rebleeding. In a pooled analysis of case series composed of 847 patients with TIC bleeding, among the 137 patients in which endoscopic hemostasis was initially achieved, early rebleeding occurred in 8% and late rebleeding occurred in 12% of patients.22 Risk factors for TIC rebleeding within 30 days were residual arterial blood flow following hemostasis and early reinitiation of antiplatelet agents.

Remote treatment of TIC hemorrhage distant from the SRH is a significant risk factor for early TIC rebleeding.4, 10 For example, using hemoclips to close the mouth of a TIC when active bleeding or an SRH is located in the TIC base often fails because arterial flow remains open in the base and the artery is larger there.4,10 This example highlights the importance of focal obliteration of arterial blood flow underlying SRH in order to achieve definitive hemostasis.4,10

Salvage treatments

For TIC hemorrhage that is not controlled by endoscopic therapy, transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE) is recommended. If bleeding rate is high enough (at least 0.5 milliliters per minute) to be detected by angiography, TAE can serve as an effective method of diagnosis and immediate hemostasis.23 However, the most common major complication of embolization is intestinal ischemia. The incidence of intestinal ischemia has been reported as high as 10%, with highest risk with embolization of at least three vasa recta.24

Surgery is also recommended if TIC hemorrhage cannot be controlled with endoscopic therapy or TAE. Segmental colectomy is recommended if the bleeding site can be localized before surgery with colonoscopy or angiography resulting from significantly lower perioperative morbidity than subtotal colectomy.25 However, subtotal colectomy may be necessary if preoperative localization of bleeding is unsuccessful.

There are very few reports of short- or long-term results that compare endoscopy, TAE, and surgery for management of TIC bleeding. However, a recent retrospective study reported better outcomes with endoscopic treatment of definitive TIC bleeding.26 Patients who underwent endoscopic treatment had fewer RBC transfusions, shorter hospitalizations, and lower rates of postprocedure complications.

Management after cessation of hemorrhage

Medical management is important following an episode of TIC hemorrhage. A mainstay is daily fiber supplementation every morning and stool softener in the evening. Furthermore, patients are advised to drink an extra liter of fluids (not containing alcohol or caffeine) daily. By reducing colon transit time and increasing stool weight, these measures can help control constipation and prevent future complications of TIC disease.27

Patients with recurrent TIC hemorrhage should undergo evaluation for elective surgery, provided they are appropriate surgical candidates. If preoperative localization of bleeding site is successful, segmental colectomy is preferred. Segmental resection is associated with significantly decreased rebleeding rate, with lower rates of morbidity compared with subtotal colectomy.32

Chronic NSAIDs, aspirin, and antiplatelet drugs are risk factors for recurrent TIC hemorrhage, and avoiding these medications is recommended if possible.33,34 Although anticoagulants have shown to be associated with increased risk of all-cause gastrointestinal bleeding, these agents have not been shown to increase risk of recurrent TIC hemorrhage in recent large retrospective studies. Since antiplatelet and anticoagulation agents serve to reduce risk of thromboembolic events, the clinician who recommended these medications should be consulted after a TIC bleed to re-evaluate whether these medications can be discontinued or reduced in dose.


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