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Disease Profile

Watermelon stomach

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Gastric antral vascular ectasia; GAVE


Digestive Diseases


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 the 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]


Watermelon stomach is characterized primarily by gastrointestinal bleeding, which may result in the following signs and symptoms:[1][2]

Watermelon stomach has been associated with other conditions, including several autoimmune diseasesatrophic gastritis, cirrhosissclerodermapernicious anemia and CREST syndrome.[3] It can also occur in patients with portal hypertension, vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome and chronic renal failure.[4] 


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, metabolic syndrome and CREST syndrome.[2][5]


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]


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]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

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    These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

    In-Depth Information

    • MeSH® (Medical Subject Headings) is a terminology tool used by the National Library of Medicine. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
    • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Watermelon stomach. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


      1. Rockey DC. Uncommon causes of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in adults. UpToDate. April 2014; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/causes-of-upper-gastrointestinal-bleeding-in-adults.
      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. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3692392/pdf/0110080.pdf.
      3. Brandt LJ. Feldman: Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 8th ed.. Philadelphia, PA : Saunders; 2006;
      4. Multiple Red Spots in the Antrum. Medscape Gastroenterology. 2002; https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/437024_2.
      5. Smith E, Tekola B, Patrie J, Cornella S & Caldwell S. Clinical Characterization of Gastric Antral Vascular Ectasia: A Potential Manifestation of the Metabolic Syndrome. Am J Med. July 27, 2016; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27476085.
      6. Chatterjee S. Watermelon stomach. CMAJ?: Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2008; 179(2):162. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2443230/.

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