What Is the Treatment for Black Vomit?

Blood in the gastrointestinal tract can make vomit appear black.
Eating dark foods like chocolate cake can make vomit look black.
The initial treatment for black vomit is intravenous fluid replacement.
Someone experiencing black vomit should consult a doctor immediately.
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  • Written By: Rebecca Harkin
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 June 2014
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Black vomit, brown vomit, or vomit that has the appearance or consistency of coffee grounds is caused by gastrointestinal bleeding. This is a serious condition, and a doctor consultation should be sought immediately. For this condition, the initial treatment is intravenous fluid replacement and possibly a blood transfusion. Once the patient is stable, the treatment will include locating and stopping the gastrointestinal bleeding. Long-term treatment of black vomit focuses on determining the original problem that led to the gastrointestinal bleeding and to treat that problem.

When a patient exhibits black vomit, it signals to a medical professional that the patient is probably suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding. Occasionally, gastrointestinal bleeding can go on for a long time before a patient has noticeable symptoms. This can mean that the patient has suffered significant loss of fluids and blood by the time he receives medical care. Therefore, the first step in the treatment of black vomit is to stabilize a patient and normalize his vital signs by administering intravenous fluids and blood.

Once the patient is stable, the doctor will try to find the source of the bleeding. This is most often done using an endoscope or camera on a long tube that can be passed through the gastrointestinal tract. Other imaging devices that can be used to search for the source of bleeding include abdominal magnetic resonance imaging, abdominal computed tomography scan, or a sigmoidoscopy.


Black vomit will continue to be a problem unless the source of the gastrointestinal bleeding is found and stopped. There are many different methods that can be used to seal the tear or rupture that is causing the bleeding. An endoscopic thermal probe, radiofrequency ablation, or argon plasma coagulation can be used to cauterize or burn the tissue surrounding the tear and reseal the area. Cryotherapy or freezing the tissue can also be used to seal the rupture.

Gastrointestinal bleeding can also be arrested using a variety of medical devices. Endoscopic clips are tiny clamps that can be used to suture tears. A specially engineered, cryanoacrylate glue can be applied to a rupture in a gastrointestinal blood vessel in a procedure known as endoscopic intravariceal cryanoacrylate injection. An angiographic embolization, which uses injected particles to help clot and stop the bleeding, can also be performed.

Long-term treatment for black vomit will be to determine the problem that caused the gastrointestinal bleeding and to treat the problem. The most common causes of digestive tract bleeding are cancer, ulcers, or an abnormality in the veins near the esophagus. Causes of bleeding in the lower part of the digestive tract include diverticular disease, colitis, and angiodysplasia.


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