Ischaemic colitis

Case contributed by Dr Andrew Lawson


Elderly patient with abdominal pain.

Patient Data

Age: 82
Gender: Female

The colon is distended from the level of the proximal rectum up to the caecum and filled with fluid and inspissated faecal matter. The caecal pole itself is not overtly distended and there is no reflux into the small bowel. No oral contrast has reached the colon. There are no discrete strictures identified. Diverticulae noted in the sigmoid colon. Segmental regions of peri-colic fluid are visible. No discrete regions of substantial wall thickening.

Reconstructions of the SMA/IMA on this portal venous imaging were normal.

Case Discussion

Pathology report:

A total colectomy has been performed.

Sections show large bowel with confluent coagulative necrosis of mucosa, associated with haemorrhage and a relatively sparse acute inflammatory infiltrate. There is occasional preservation of crypt bases and muscularis propria. The submucosa is oedematous and haemorrhagic. Occasionally there is transmural acute inflammatory infiltrate associated with patchy necrosis of muscularis propria. At the margins the mucosa is necrotic however the muscularis propria appears viable. The mesenteric vessels contain blood however thrombosis is not seen and there is no evidence of vasculitis.

DIAGNOSIS: Large bowel: Acute ischaemic colitis with early infarction.


This case was not prospectively called ischaemic colitis, but the patient went to theatre since she was clinically peritonitic.

TEACHING POINT: apart from obstructing lesions resulting in colonic distension, consider a vascular insult.

PlayAdd to Share

Case information

rID: 26892
Published: 12th Jan 2014
Last edited: 9th Feb 2017
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

Updating… Please wait.

Alert accept

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.