Gastrointestinal (GI) Bleed following weight loss surgery is rare but does require knowledge of the particular bariatric surgical procedure the patients has and how to proceed with diagnostics to fully evaluate the situation. Acute or chronic gastrointestinal bleeding can cause anemia in patients. However, Anemia may also be caused by nutritional deficiencies (iron, vitamin , minerals), Kidney disease, bone marrow disease and others. The work-up for anemia following weight loss surgery follows a routine protocol. If there is an evidence of bleeding from intestine (bloody emesis, bloody bowel movement, “tar” like black bowel movements) then the diagnostic work up would include an upper and lower endoscopy.
Upper endoscopy Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD): evaluates the esophagus, stomach and a limited area of the duodenum past pyloric valve.
Lower endoscopy Colonoscopy or coloscopy: evaluates the rectus and the entire colon.
Between these two tests, there is still a considerable amount of the small bowel that is not accessible or visualized with endoscopic procedures. For the small bowel, examination Capsule endoscopy is an option in an intact GI tract. Patients who have had Gastric bypass RNY or the Duodenal Switch, the large segments of the small bowel can not be visualized or examined with capsule endoscopy.
Patients who have had Duodenal Switch, Gastric Bypass and SADI – S would need a tagged red cell scan or CT angiography if GI bleed is suspected in areas of the small intestine that are inaccessible by endoscopic procedures.
Upper Endoscopy (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy- EGD)
Gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures can be done in patients after the duodenal switch operation.
An upper endoscopy in an intact anatomy, involves examination of the esophagus, stomach, pyloric valve, and the duodenum including the ampulla of vater. This is where the biliopancreatic secretions are added into the GI track for absorption of the nutrients.
The upper endoscopy examination is limited after the duodenal switch operation to the first part of the three parts of the Duodenum. So the ampulla of vater can not be examined. This is also why an ERCP cannot be performed in patients after the duodenal switch operation.
Lower Endoscopy (Colonoscopy)
Duodenal switch operation does not change the anatomy of the large intestine. The colonoscopy examination can be done as with a patient who has not had the duodenal switch operation. The only consideration should be the bowel preparation. It has been noted that the patients after the duodenal switch operation require a longer than usual time for the bower prep. We recommend patients going on a liquid diet for 4-5 days before the planned procedure. I know it sounds unexpected that we recommend patients after the duodenal switch to be on liquid diet. You may also want the physician doing the colonoscopy be aware that you may need more aggressive and longer bowel prep.
Please see examples of the upper endoscopy here.