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What is Coffee Ground Vomitus & How is it Treated? | Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis of Coffee Ground Vomitus

What is Coffee Ground Vomitus?

Coffee Ground Vomitus is the name given to a type of vomitus that resembles the color of coffee ground. This unique color is usually due to the presence of old blood in the vomitus. The time frame the blood stays in the GI tract determines the color of the vomitus when eventually it is eliminated from the body in the form of vomiting.[1]

Vomiting blood is an emergent medical condition and should be immediately attended to by a physician. It should be noted that upper gastrointestinal bleed accounts for about 75% cases of Coffee Ground vomitus. According to available data, Coffee Ground Vomitus is seen every 100 out of 100,000 people in the United States.[1]

What is Coffee Ground Vomitus?

What Causes Coffee Ground Vomitus?

Other than upper gastrointestinal bleeding, there are certain other causes for Coffee Ground Vomitus. These include gastric ulcers as well as esophageal varices. In some cases, inflammation of the lining of the stomach also known as gastritis can also cause Coffee Ground Vomitus. People who abuse alcohol and end up having cirrhosis or severe scarring of the liver also have Coffee Ground Vomitus as one of the symptoms.[1]

Hemophilia B which is an inherited condition which affects the clotting of the blood is also one of the causes for Coffee Ground Vomitus. People with esophageal cancer also have Coffee Ground Vomitus as one of the symptoms. All of these conditions are quite serious and require prompt medical treatment.[1]

What are the Symptoms of Coffee Ground Vomitus?

Some of the symptoms that can occur along with Coffee Ground Vomitus include:

These symptoms will differ according to the underlying condition that is causing the patient to have Coffee Ground Vomitus. All of these symptoms require a trip to the emergency room for a thorough evaluation.[1]

How Is The Cause Of Coffee Ground Vomitus Diagnosed?

As stated, the most common cause for Coffee Ground Vomitus is upper GI bleeding. However, a definitive diagnosis needs to be made of the underlying condition in order to formulate a treatment plan and prevent any complications. To begin with the physician will take a detailed history of the patient and inquire as to whether he or she is experiencing any other symptoms. In addition, an inquiry will also be made as to any history of any medications that may have a role to play in Coffee Ground Vomitus.[1]

Once a detailed history is known, then the next step towards diagnosis of the cause of Coffee Ground Vomitus is a thorough physical examination. The physician will look for areas of pain and tenderness along the abdominal area. The physician will then order a chest x-ray and blood draws to look for a cause for the Coffee Ground Vomitus.[1]

Additionally, the patient may have to undergo a fecal occult blood test to check for presence of any blood in the stool. A barium swallow study will then be performed to look at the areas of the upper gastrointestinal tract for a cause for the condition. In some cases, if the physician suspects an abnormality within the GI tract then an endoscopy will also be performed to take a detailed look at the stomach, esophagus, and upper small intestine. A biopsy may also be taken of the tissue.[1]

In some instances, a colonoscopy is also done to detect any abnormality within the colon or the rectum causing Coffee Ground Vomitus. The results of all of these tests will confirm the underlying condition causing Coffee Ground Vomitus and will help guide the physician in formulating a treatment plan.[1]

How is Coffee Ground Vomitus Treated?

The treatment for Coffee Ground Vomitus depends on what is actually causing it. This will need to be determined by the treating physician first before formulating a treatment plan. In cases if ulcer or gastritis is believed to be the cause of Coffee Ground Vomitus, then the patient will be given antibiotics to clear up the infection that is causing the irritation and inflammation. Antacids will also be given to reduce the secretion of acids thereby allowing the stomach to heal.[1]

Additionally, medications will also be prescribed to protect the lining of the stomach. For people with cancer of the upper gastrointestinal tract, the treatment will depend on the extent and stage of the cancer. This will include identifying and removing the tumor surgically. This will be followed by a course of radiation and chemotherapy. For cases of hemophilia B causing Coffee Ground Vomitus, the treatment usually consists of replacement therapy. This therapy involves intravenous infusion of the missing clotting factors. This will prevent any further bleeding from the upper GI tract and treat Coffee Ground Vomitus.[1]

For people with esophageal varices as a cause for Coffee Ground Vomitus, they will be treated with beta blockers. These medications decrease pressure of the blood in the veins that is bleeding. The physician may also opt to tie off the bleeding veins and stop the bleeding. This is called as rubber band ligation.[1]

For cirrhosis as a cause of Coffee Ground Vomitus, the patient will be given IV antibiotics along with beta blockers. It will be recommended to a patient with cirrhosis to completely abstain from alcohol to prevent any worsening complications aside from Coffee Ground Vomitus.[1]


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 8, 2020

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