Published online Feb 28, 2017. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i8.1328
Peer-review started: September 19, 2016
First decision: December 19, 2016
Revised: January 1, 2017
Accepted: January 17, 2017
Article in press: January 17, 2017
Published online: February 28, 2017
There are many causes of gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) in children, and this condition is not rare, having a reported incidence of 6.4%. Causes vary with age, but show considerable overlap; moreover, while many of the causes in the pediatric population are similar to those in adults, some lesions are unique to children. The diagnostic approach for pediatric GIB includes definition of the etiology, localization of the bleeding site and determination of the severity of bleeding; timely and accurate diagnosis is necessary to reduce morbidity and mortality. To assist medical care providers in the evaluation and management of children with GIB, the “Gastro-Ped Bleed Team” of the Italian Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (SIGENP) carried out a systematic search on MEDLINE via PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/) to identify all articles published in English from January 1990 to 2016; the following key words were used to conduct the electronic search: “upper GIB” and “pediatric” [all fields]; “lower GIB” and “pediatric” [all fields]; “obscure GIB” and “pediatric” [all fields]; “GIB” and “endoscopy” [all fields]; “GIB” and “therapy” [all fields]. The identified publications included articles describing randomized controlled trials, reviews, case reports, cohort studies, case-control studies and observational studies. References from the pertinent articles were also reviewed. This paper expresses a position statement of SIGENP that can have an immediate impact on clinical practice and for which sufficient evidence is not available in literature. The experts participating in this effort were selected according to their expertise and professional qualifications.
Core tip: This review provides a practical diagnostic guide for clinicians for the diagnosis and management of gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) in children. Clinical presentation can be variable and bleeding can occur in any area of the gastrointestinal tract. The differential diagnosis is important to define the sequence of management. Upper endoscopy and colonoscopy are the mainstay of initial investigations. Best outcomes are possible by a multidisciplinary approach including clinicians with skills in pediatric gastroenterology, radiology and surgery. For cases of major GIB, stabilization of the patient’s condition precludes any diagnostic examination.