Melena Overview

Melena is a stool symptom where the stool is black and tarry. The cause is usually bleeding early in the digestive system, such as in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum. Causes include esophageal bleeding, stomach bleeding, gastritis, peptic ulcers (stomach ulcer; duodenal ulcer), or other digestive conditions.

Melena needs to be differentiated from hematochezia. Bleeding closer to the anus resulting in rectal bleeding (e.g. hemorrhoids, anal fissure, etc.) usually causes redder blood, rather than black stools.

Treatment of melena is primarily aimed at diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause. Severe blood loss may occur and is a medical emergency. Read more about: Gastritis, Blood in Stool, Rectal Bleeding.

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.