Watermelon Stomach

Gastric Antral Vascular Ectasia, GAVE

Overview

Type of disease: Rare Condition or Disease

Watermelon stomach is a condition in which the lining of the stomach bleeds, causing it to look like the characteristic stripes of a watermelon when viewed by endoscopy. Although it can develop in men and women of all ages, watermelon stomach is most commonly observed in older women (over age 70 years). Signs and symptoms of watermelon stomach include blood in the stool, hematemesis (vomiting blood) and anemia. The exact cause of watermelon stomach is unknown; however, it is often diagnosed in people with other chronic (long-term) conditions such as cirrhosis (scarring of the liver and poor liver function), autoimmune disease, systemic sclerosis, and CREST syndrome. Treatment consists of surgery and/or medications to stop or control the bleeding.
Watermelon stomach is usually treated with endoscopic laser surgery or argon plasma coagulation. Both of these procedures are performed by endoscopy. Endoscopic laser surgery uses a laser light to treat bleeding blood vessels, while argon plasma coagulation uses argon gas and electrical current to seal irregular or bleeding tissue.
In some cases, people may be treated with certain medications that help stop or control the gastrointestinal bleeding. Corticosteriods, tranexamic acid, and hormone therapy (with estrogen and progesterone) have been used to treat watermelon stomach with some success.
Depending on the severity of the bleeding, blood transfusions may also be necessary at the time of diagnosis. Additional transfusions may be recommended if gastrointestinal bleeding can not be stopped or controlled.
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