To assess the value of recently developed aggressive pharmacologic angiographic techniques for the diagnosis of acute lower gastrointestinal hemorrhage, we reviewed our experience with 63 consecutive patients referred for angiography. Hemorrhage was severe as indicated by a mean blood transfusion requirement of 9.4 units. Extravasation of contrast (46%), or an obvious vascular abnormality suggestive of a bleeding site (32%), was identified in 78% of patients. Extravasation was seen more frequently in patients with ≥3 units of transfusion (66%) than in those with <3 units of transfusion (17%, P<0.001). After the introduction of pharmacologic techniques using heparin, tolazoline, streptokinase, and indwelling arterial catheters, the percentage of studies with extravasation of contrast increased from 32 to 65% (P<0.01). Application of aggressive angiographic techniques increases the diagnostic yield of angiography in acute severe lower gastrointestinal hemorrhage while exposing the patient to modest increased procedure-related risks which can be accepted in selected patients.
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