Rectal bleeding

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Definition

Rectal bleeding can refer to any blood that passes from your anus, although rectal bleeding is usually assumed to refer to bleeding from your lower colon or rectum. Your rectum makes up the last few inches of your large intestine.

Rectal bleeding may show up as blood in your stool, on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Blood that results from rectal bleeding can range in color from bright red to dark maroon to a dark, tarry color.

Causes

Rectal bleeding may occur for many reasons. Common causes of rectal bleeding include:

  • Anal fissure (tear in the skin of the anus)
  • Chronic constipation
  • Hard stools
  • Hemorrhoids

Less common causes of rectal bleeding:

  • Anal cancer
  • Angiodysplasia (abnormalities in the blood vessels near the intestines)
  • Colon cancer
  • Colon polyps
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Diverticulosis (a bulging pouch that forms on the wall of the intestine)
  • Ischemic colitis (colon inflammation caused by reduced blood flow)
  • Proctitis (inflammation of the rectum)
  • Ganglion cyst (colon inflammation caused by an infection)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Rectal prolapse (part of the rectum protrudes through the anus)
  • Solitary rectal ulcer syndrome (a sore on the wall of the rectum)
  • Ulcerative colitis

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