Background: Ischaemic colitis has been associated with co-morbid conditions, medications, vascular surgery and advanced age in case reports and case series. Few data exist on the baseline incidence in the general population or on the increased risk imposed by these risk factors.
Aim: To systematically review the literature regarding the incidence, prevalence and risk factors for ischaemic colitis.
Methods: Searches of bibliographic databases were performed independently by two investigators. Studies were included if they used population-based samples, disease-specific population samples or case-control population-based samples of adults with ischaemic colitis, and reported the incidence, prevalence or risk factors for ischaemic colitis. Eligible articles were reviewed and data were abstracted in a duplicate, independent manner.
Results: Four studies were identified that reported the general population incidence and four that reported the disease-specific population incidence. The incidence of ischaemic colitis in general populations ranged from 4.5 to 44 cases per 100 000 person-years. The risk was increased two- to four-fold by either prevalent irritable bowel syndrome or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The risk was also increased in females and in subjects of 65 years and older.
Conclusions: Ischaemic colitis is uncommon in the general population. The effect sizes of the most commonly reported risk factors have not been adequately quantified in population-based studies.