ACR Appropriateness Criteria® Radiologic Management of Lower Gastrointestinal Tract Bleeding: 2021 Update

Academic Article


  • Diverticulosis remains the commonest cause for acute lower gastrointestinal tract bleeding (GIB). Conservative management is initially sufficient for most patients, followed by elective diagnostic tests. However, if acute lower GIB persists, it can be investigated with colonoscopy, CT angiography (CTA), or red blood cell (RBC) scan. Colonoscopy can identify the site and cause of bleeding and provide effective treatment. CTA is a noninvasive diagnostic tool that is better tolerated by patients, can identify actively bleeding site or a potential bleeding lesion in vast majority of patients. RBC scan can identify intermittent bleeding, and with single-photon emission computed tomography, can more accurately localize it to a small segment of bowel. If patients are hemodynamically unstable, CTA and transcatheter arteriography/embolization can be performed. Colonoscopy can also be considered in these patients if rapid bowel preparation is feasible. Transcatheter arteriography has a low rate of major complications; however, targeted transcatheter embolization is only feasible if extravasation is seen, which is more likely in hemodynamically unstable patients. If bleeding site has been previously localized but the intervention by colonoscopy and transcatheter embolization have failed to achieve hemostasis, surgery may be required. Among patients with obscure (nonlocalized) recurrent bleeding, capsule endoscopy and CT enterography can be considered to identify culprit mucosal lesion(s). The American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria are evidence-based guidelines for specific clinical conditions that are reviewed annually by a multidisciplinary expert panel. The guideline development and revision include an extensive analysis of current medical literature from peer reviewed journals and the application of well-established methodologies (RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method and Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation or GRADE) to rate the appropriateness of imaging and treatment procedures for specific clinical scenarios. In those instances where evidence is lacking or equivocal, expert opinion may supplement the available evidence to recommend imaging or treatment.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 10207173
  • Author List

  • Karuppasamy K; Kapoor BS; Fidelman N; Abujudeh H; Bartel TB; Caplin DM; Cash BD; Citron SJ; Farsad K; Gajjar AH
  • Start Page

  • S139
  • End Page

  • S152
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 5