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Synchronous upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy is an effective method of investigating iron-deficiency anaemia

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Background The investigation of iron-deficiency anaemia is often inadequate. Synchronous upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy under the same sedative episode (bidirectional endoscopy; BDE) has been proposed for all such patients.

Methods The value of this strategy has been examined prospectively. Eighty-nine patients with iron-deficiency anaemia underwent BDE using local anaesthesia of the throat and intravenous midazolam.

Results A cause for gastrointestinal blood loss was found in 75 patients (84 per cent) after BDE alone. Twenty-five patients (28 per cent) had upper gastrointestinal pathology alone, 24 (27 per cent) had lower gastrointestinal pathology alone and 26 (29 per cent) had dual pathology. Forty-five patients (51 per cent) had gastrointestinal malignancy. Twenty patients (22 per cent) had further investigations and these yielded a diagnosis in five. No cause for the anaemia was found in nine patients (10 per cent). Treatment of the bleeding source(s) resolved the anaemia in all but one patient.

Conclusion BDE is an effective investigation for patients with iron-deficiency anaemia and its use should be encouraged.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK

Publication date: December 1, 1997

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