Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, PC -  - Gastroenterologist

Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, PC

Gastroenterologist located in New York City on Manhattan's Upper East Side

Having signs of gastrointestinal bleeding such as blood in your stool or vomitus isn’t always serious, but it can indicate an underlying problem. At her practice on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, brings over 30 years of experience as a gastroenterologist to diagnosing and treating digestive disorders that can cause gastrointestinal bleeding. If you notice signs of gastrointestinal bleeding, call Dr. Woolrich’s office or schedule an appointment online today.

Gastrointestinal Bleeding Q & A

What is gastrointestinal bleeding?

When you pass blood from your rectum, with or without passing  stool or when there is blood in your vomitus, it is a sign that you are bleeding somewhere in your gastrointestinal tract.  The blood could be coming from an unsuspected nose bleed, bleeding gums or anywhere between your esophagus and anus.

The amount and appearance of the gastrointestinal bleeding can vary depending on the severity of the bleeding and its origin. Rectal bleeding frequently appears bright red or dark and maroon colored on your toilet paper or in the bowl. It could also be mixed in or just coating your bowel movement. Stools that appear black or tarry often indicate bleeding higher up in your gastrointestinal tract.

You can also have blood in your stool that is not apparent on inspection. Your doctor might have performed a rectal exam and tested the stool for occult blood and discovered that it was positive, meaning that there is bleeding somewhere in your gastrointestinal tract.

What causes gastrointestinal bleeding?

You can develop gastrointestinal bleeding for several reasons, including:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Anal fissures
  • Colitis- infectious, ischemic, ulcerative or Crohn's disease
  • Colon or small intestinal  polyps and cancers
  • Stomach irritation, ulcers and cancers
  • Esophageal irritation, tears, ulcers and cancers
  • AVMs (arteriovenous malformations) which can occur anywhere in the GI tract 

How is the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding diagnosed?

Dr. Woolrich will diagnose the source of your gastrointestinal bleeding by first obtaining a complete history and  physical examination. She might need to perform or repeat a digital rectal exam. A blood test might be necessary to assess how much blood was lost. 

In addition to the physical exam, Dr. Woolrich may also recommend endoscopy to look for the precise location in your gastrointestinal tract that is bleeding. She will then be able to stop the bleeding or treat the cause. If an upper endoscopy and or a colonoscopy does not reveal the source of  your bleeding, she might obtain a small bowel capsule study. For this study you  swallow a very small camera that would transmit pictures focusing on your small intestine. 

What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure performed under sedation.  As a highly trained gastroenterologist with 30 years of experience, Dr. Woolrich performs upper and lower endoscopies. An endoscope is a narrow, flexible tube with a light and camera at the tip that projects magnified images on a large screen.

During an upper endoscopy, Dr. Woolrich passes the endoscope through your mouth and  down to the beginning of your small intestine to evaluate your upper gastrointestinal tract. When you have a colonoscopy, Dr. Woolrich examines your lower gastrointestinal tract by inserting the endoscope in your anus and advancing it inside your colon to the distal small intestine.

For more information on gastrointestinal bleeding, call Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.