Long-term follow up of patients with obscure gastrointestinal bleeding examined with video capsule endoscopy

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Abstract

Background:

Video capsule endoscopy (VCE) is a commonly used test for the evaluation of obscure gastrointestinal bleeding. However, long-term outcomes of patients undergoing VCE are unclear.

Aims:

To evaluate the long-term outcomes in patients undergoing VCE for suspected obscure bleeding including iron deficiency anemia (IDA), and determine the need for additional intervention for persistence or recurrence of symptoms in patients with a diagnostic as well as non-diagnostic VCE.

Design:

Retrospective cohort study within a large county hospital system.

Methods:

We collected information on indications and findings of VCE and outcomes including further testing, bleeding, and hemoglobin (Hgb) at last follow-up through structured review of the electronic health records. VCE findings were classified as active bleeding or high potential for bleeding (P2), intermediate potential (P1) or without any disruption of the mucosa, and no potential for bleeding (P0). We compared demographic and clinical characteristics between patients with and without normal Hgb at the time of last follow up.

Results:

We examined 116 patients who underwent VCEs performed for obscure gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding during 2010 to 2012 with mean duration of follow up after VCE completion of 571 days (standard deviation [SD] = 248). Abnormal VCE findings (37.9% for P1 lesions, 44.8% for P2 lesions) were seen in 106 (87.9%) patients. Additional diagnostic testing was performed in 55/116 (47.4%) (67.7% GI procedures). Hgb was restored to normal range in 59/116 (50.9%) by end of follow up which were attributed to iron supplementation and/or discontinuation of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in a majority. Twenty six of 116 patients experienced rebleeding (22.4%).

Conclusions:

The diagnostic yield of VCE is high among patients with obscure GI bleeding. More than 50% of patients achieve normal Hgb in the long term with conservative measures such as iron supplementation and the discontinuation of NSAIDs.

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