Isolated terminal ileal ulcerations in asymptomatic individuals: natural course and clinical significance

Gastrointest Endosc. 2010 Dec;72(6):1226-32. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2010.08.029.


Background: Although isolated terminal ileal ulcerations (ITIUs) are occasionally observed on colonoscopic examination of asymptomatic individuals, their clinical course and guidelines for treatment are unclear.

Objective: To evaluate the clinical course and significance of ITIUs in asymptomatic individuals.

Design: Single-center retrospective analysis.

Setting: University hospital.

Patients and interventions: All patients diagnosed with ITIUs on colonoscopy from July 2001 to December 2007 were identified. Patients with colorectal symptoms, a history of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug consumption, a history of colorectal surgery, oral or genital ulcerations, and coincidental ulceration in the ileocecal valve or colon were excluded.

Main outcome measurements: Colonoscopic findings and clinical courses of patients were analyzed.

Results: Of the 148 included patients, 93 were followed (mean duration, 29.9 months). Of these, 62 showed resolution of ITIU on follow-up colonoscopy, including 60 who resolved without any treatment and 2 who resolved after antituberculosis medication. Follow-up colonoscopy continued to show ITIUs in the remaining 31 patients, only 1 of whom developed typical Crohn's disease, whereas the other 30 showed no significant changes in the lesions (n = 22), partial improvement (n = 6), or waxing and waning endoscopic appearance (n = 2).

Limitations: Retrospective design, relatively short-term follow-up.

Conclusions: Most ITIUs incidentally observed in asymptomatic individuals resolve without any treatment. Even if these lesions persist, it is unusual for them to progress or to cause any symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Ileal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Ileal Diseases / pathology
  • Ileum / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ulcer / diagnosis*
  • Ulcer / pathology
  • Young Adult