What are the related symptoms?

Gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE) will involve chronic gastrointestinal bleeding and include symptoms such as:

  • Blood in the stools
  • Dark, tar coloured stool
  • Vomiting of blood
  • Anaemia

What causes gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE)?

GAVE is caused by abnormalities of the blood vessels within the stomach. It is unknown what causes this abnormality but it is found that those with portal hypertension, chronic renal failure, collagen vascular diseases and systemic sclerosis are more at risk to developing gastric antral vascular ectasia.

What does management or treatment involve?

Dr Mokhele may do an endoscopy to diagnose this condition. Using a thin tube with a camera attached to the end, he may find dark, engorged blood vessels in the lining of the stomach. These often look like red stripes that resemble the stripes of a watermelon, hence the name “watermelon stomach”.

Chronic blood loss caused by ‘watermelon stomach’ causes chronic anaemia. If diagnosed, Dr Mokhele may focus treatment on alleviating anaemia. This may require iron supplements and blood transfusions to treat. Depending on the severity of bleeding in the stomach, your gastroenterologist may help assist in the treatment of GAVE with non-contact argon plasma coagulation in which the affected tissue is targeted for ablation. Argon plasma coagulation (APC) involves argon gas being used to deliver plasma to the affected area. The lining of the stomach is then targeted with evenly distributed thermal energy to treat these engorged blood vessel and stop future rupturing.


Gastrocure, Eastern Cape