Thalidomide was initially synthesised in 1954 and marketed as a sedative and antiemetic for morning sickness. It was withdrawn in 1961 due to the realisation that it was teratogenic with over 10 000 children born with congenital abnormalities. Since then it has been used for treatment of dermatological and oncological conditions, including myeloma. In 1994, it was found to have a potent antiangiogenic effect via downregulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). This has led to its use in gastrointestinal bleeding, as vascular abnormalities such as angiodysplasia have been found to have elevated VEGF levels. This article will review the current evidence of the use of thalidomide in bleeding associated with gastrointestinal vascular malformations, including angiodysplasia, gastric cancer and radiation-induced proctitis.
- gastrointestinal bleeding
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