Blood in your stool means that there is bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. The most common causes of rectal bleeding are:
- Anal fissure
- Colon polyps
- Colon cancer
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
Also, bleeding from higher up in the digestive tract such as the stomach or small bowel can produce black tarry bowel movements, which can be severe and needs to be evaluated by a gastroenterologist.
Rectal bleeding may be caused by benign conditions like hemorrhoids, but this can only be determined by a thorough examination. This examination could include some tests to determine the cause of the rectal bleeding. The type of exam used will depend on several factors like your age, symptoms, family history, and your medical history.
What are the tests for rectal bleeding?
The three most common tests are:
- Rectal examination – this is the easiest test to perform and is done in the office and sometimes can detect the cause of bleeding with no further examination
- Anoscopy – this can be performed at the same time as your office visit with no prep and minimal discomfort. It involves inserting a small speculum to inspect the anus and lower rectum in the office. It is a quick procedure which requires no sedation and is useful to evaluate hemorrhoids
- Colonoscopy – this procedure allows your doctor to examine the entire colon for any potential causes of rectal bleeding.