How Can I Tell If My Patient Has a Gastrointestinal Bleed? Is It an Upper Gastrointestinal Bleed (UGIB) or Lower Gastrointestinal Bleed (LGIB)?

  • Ainsley Adams
  • Andrew C. MeltzerEmail author


Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is categorized broadly by anatomic location of the bleeding lesion. Upper GI bleeding refers to bleeding in the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum that originates proximal to the ligament of Treitz. Upper GI bleeding is usually more severe than lower GI bleeding, although severe hemorrhaging can occur at any site. Endoscopy and colonoscopy are typically performed to identify the bleeding lesion and promote hemostasis. When treating a patient with a GI bleed, the emergency physician must rapidly provide stabilization and expedite definitive care.


Hematemesis Coffee-ground emesis Hematochezia Melena Rectal exam Occult stool test 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Emergency MedicineGeorge Washington University School of Medicine & Health SciencesWashington, DCUSA

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