Incidence and etiology of overt gastrointestinal bleeding in adult patients with aplastic anemia.
Patients with thrombocytopenia caused by various neoplastic and primary bone marrow diseases are susceptible to major hemorrhage. There are few reports addressing the incidence and outcome of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding in patients with aplastic anemia characterized by long-standing thrombocytopenia. We sought to retrospectively determine the incidence, etiology, clinical outcomes, and risk factors associated with overt GI bleeding in patients with aplastic anemia. We analyzed the medical records of 508 patients with aplastic anemia after excluding patients below 15 years of age or those who underwent stem cell transplantation between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2007. A total of 32 patients developed overt GI bleeding during this period. We evaluated the site, etiology, outcomes, and major risk factors in these patients who developed GI bleeding episodes. The incidence of GI bleeding was 6.3% (32 of 508 patients) in adult patients with aplastic anemia. The incidence increased to 12.6% (28 of 222 patients) in patients with severe disease. One patient died from massive GI bleeding. Bleeding sites included the esophagus (two patients, 6.3%), stomach (five, 16.3%), duodenum (two, 6.3%), small intestine (five, 15.6%), large intestine (seven, 21.6%), and unknown site (11, 34.4%). Lower GI bleeds mainly caused by neutropenic enterocolitis (NEC) and solitary ulcer developed more frequently than upper GI bleeds. The major risk factors for GI bleeding included old age (P = 0.004, odds ratio (OR) = 1.039), severe aplastic anemia (P < 0.001, OR = 11.934), non-response to therapy (P = 0.001, OR = 5.652), and major bleeding history in another organ (P < 0.001, OR = 6.677). Overt GI bleeding in patients with aplastic anemia more frequently develops in the lower tract than in the upper tract. The risk of GI bleeding is higher in patients with the following risk factors: older age, severe disease, poor response to treatment, and major bleeding history in another organ.