The small bowel commonly known as the small intestine is about 20-feet long and the longest in the GI tract. It is coined as small because it is narrower than the large intestine. The small intestine aids in the absorption of nutrients and digestion of food. It constitutes of the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. GI bleeding or gastrointestinal bleeding occurs in the small bowel, when there is some abnormality in the inner lining. Arteriovenous malfunctions or AVMs are the main cause of such bleeding in people over the age of 50.
Endoscopy and enteroscopy The small bowel and stomach are examined using a thin, long tube with a light at the end of it. The scopes capture images which are displayed on a monitor.
Capsule endoscopy In this procedure the patient swallows a small capsule the size of a vitamin pill. A tiny wireless camera is present inside the capsule which captures at least 50,000 images as it passes through the intestine.
Balloon endoscopy Deep small bowel enteroscopy is performed using inflatable balloons and overtubes.
Abdominal x-rays X-ray tests that are commonly performed for small bowel bleeding are small-bowel follow through, enteroclysis and CT enterography.
Quite often these bleeding points can be occluded with the help of interventional radiology. Occasionally they may require surgery for correction.