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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Watermelon stomach


Other Names for this Disease

  • Gastric antral vascular ectasia
  • GAVE
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Overview

What is watermelon stomach?

What are the signs and symptoms of watermelon stomach?

What causes watermelon stomach?

How is watermelon stomach diagnosed?

How might watermelon stomach be treated?

What is the long-term outlook for people with watermelon stomach?

What is watermelon stomach?

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 stool, hematemesis (vomiting blood) and anemia.[1] 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.[2]
Last updated: 12/6/2014

What are the signs and symptoms of watermelon stomach?

Watermelon stomach is characterized primarily by gastrointestinal bleeding, which may result in the following signs and symptoms:[1][2]
Last updated: 12/6/2014

What causes watermelon stomach?

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.[2]
Last updated: 12/6/2014

How is watermelon stomach diagnosed?

A diagnosis of watermelon stomach is usually made when rows of flat, reddish stripes on the lining of the stomach (like the stripes of a watermelon) are seen on endoscopy. Other tests, such as a biopsy of the stomach lining, an endoscopic ultrasound (ultrasound probe on the tip of an endoscope), computed tomography (CT scan) and/or a tagged red blood cell scan, may be used to confirm the diagnosis.[1]
Last updated: 12/6/2014

How might watermelon stomach be treated?

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.[1][2]

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.[2]

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.[2]
Last updated: 12/6/2014

What is the long-term outlook for people with watermelon stomach?

The long-term outlook (prognosis) for people with watermelon stomach varies. Some affected people have continued or recurrent (appearing again) gastrointestinal bleeding even with treatment. These cases are often considered "transfusion-dependent" since regular blood transfusions are usually necessary. Other affected people respond well to therapy and have no additional bleeding episodes.[2]
Last updated: 12/7/2014

References
  1. Don C Rockey, MD. Uncommon causes of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in adults. UpToDate. April 2014;
  2. Kar P, Mitra S, Resnick JM, Torbey CF. Gastric antral vascular ectasia: case report and review of the literature.. Clin Med Res. June 2013; 11(2):80-85. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3692392/pdf/0110080.pdf.


Other Names for this Disease
  • Gastric antral vascular ectasia
  • GAVE
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.