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Alternative Names Return to topColonic ischemia
Definition Return to top
Ischemic colitis is a sudden swelling (inflammation) of a part of the large intestine (colon) that occurs when there is a temporary loss of, or reduction in, blood flow to the colon.
Causes Return to top
Ischemic colitis mainly affects people over 50. Many of them have a history of peripheral vascular disease.
Other risk factors include:
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
Mild, temporary ischemic colitis is treated by maintaining good blood pressure. This can be done with medicines and by avoiding dehydration. Antibiotics are sometimes used.
Chronic ischemic colitis leading to areas of narrowed colon (strictures) is treated by removing the narrowed areas with surgery.
Severe ischemic colitis that leads to gangrene is treated with:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Most cases of ischemic colitis are mild and will improve on their own. They do not need treatment.
The death rate is high when gangrene occurs because there is not enough blood supply.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of ischemic colitis.
Prevention Return to top
Being aware of your risk may allow early diagnosis and treatment. Absolute prevention may not be possible.
References Return to top
Hauser SC. Vascular diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 146.Update Date: 5/27/2008 Updated by: Christian Stone, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.