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What are the surgically correctable causes of gastrointestinal hemorrhage?
Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is a common problem in children and its presentation can vary dramatically depending on the location and source of the bleeding. For example, bleeding can present with clinically significant hematemesis, hematochezia or melena depending on whether the source is from the upper or lower gastrointestinal tract. While any bleeding can be alarming to patients and their families, the majority of pediatric gastrointestinal bleeding is benign and is self limited. Gastrointestinal bleeding, however, can potentially present with massive, life threatening hemorrhage requiring immediate evaluation and treatment. With advances in pharmacologic therapy and endoscopic and radiologic techniques, the indications for operation to control and treat GI bleeding have become limited. The various etiologies of gastrointestinal bleeding in children along with their specific presentations, diagnostic workups and treatment options should be familiar to health care providers. In the pediatric patient population, the differential diagnosis of GI bleeding varies widely depending on the age of the patient.