Angiodysplasia of the Colon Medication

Updated: May 08, 2019
  • Author: Hussein Al-Hamid, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

Medical treatment has been used in active and recurrent bleeding from colonic angiodysplasia with controversial results. Hormonal treatment with estrogen and progesterone has been evaluated by randomized trials but remains controversial and is probably not effective. Octreotide, both short and long acting, has been described as effective in a few case reports and case series only. Other agents, such as thalidomide, remain experimental. Desmopressin (DDAVP) has also been used in specific subsets of patients. At the moment, no medical therapy has been proven to effectively treat bleeding from angiodysplasia. A recent meta-analysis suggested that hormonal therapy was not effective in bleeding cessation; however, somatostatin analogs could be effective therapy for gastrointestinal angiodysplasias. [97]


Oral Contraceptives

Class Summary

Only use hormonal therapy for the small subset of patients who are transfusion-dependent from bleeding angiodysplasia refractory to conservative and endoscopic therapy and who are poor surgical candidates. This therapy is not for routine management of bleeding angiodysplasia. No large-scale, randomized, double-blinded studies have demonstrated its effectiveness.

Estrogen-progesterone therapy, previously used to treat bleeding associated with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), also has been tried in patients with GI bleeding from angiodysplasia.

The proposed mechanisms by which hormonal therapy might affect bleeding include improvement in coagulation, alterations in microvascular circulation, and improvements in endothelial integrity.

Data from a double-blinded, crossover trial using 0.05 mg ethinyl estradiol and 1 mg norethisterone administered daily to 10 elderly patients with GI ectasia (6 of the patients had HHT) indicated that the combination significantly reduced bleeding and transfusion requirements. Several other small series with anecdotal success have been described, but one must be skeptical.

A retrospective cohort study of 64 patients by Lewis et al refutes the benefits of hormonal therapy in angiodysplasia. [98] Thirty patients were administered 5-10 mg of norethynodrel with mestranol (0.075-0.15 mg) or with conjugated estrogens (0.625 mg); the bleeding rates did not differ before and after therapy, and they did not differ from bleeding rates of historical controls or from patients who refused therapy. [98] Treatment adverse effects in this study included vaginal bleeding, fluid retention, and stroke (23% of the treated patients).

Overall, the current data do not support the use of hormonal therapy in patients with colonic angiodysplasia.

Ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ovcon 50)

Suggested mechanisms by which hormonal therapy might affect bleeding include improvement in coagulation, alterations in the microvascular circulation, and improvements in endothelial integrity. One tab contains ethinyl estradiol 0.05 mg and norethindrone 1 mg.


Somatostatin Analogues

Class Summary

Somatostatin analogues have been reported to decrease the rate of bleeding from intestinal angiodysplasia. In our experience, these agents are usually well tolerated and may decrease the rate of chronic bleeding. Octreotide should be the first choice in patients with portal hypertension.

Octreotide (Sandostatin)

Mechanism of action in this setting is not fully understood. Used in acute variceal bleeding and for recurrent bleeding after endoscopic therapy.

May reduce the transfusion requirement.