Microscopic colitis: clinical and pathologic perspectives

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Feb;13(2):228-36. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2013.12.026. Epub 2014 Jan 7.


Microscopic colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease characterized by chronic nonbloody diarrhea and specific histopathology features. Active disease, defined as 3 or more stools or 1 or more watery stools per day, significantly reduces quality of life. Epidemiologic studies have found the incidence and prevalence of microscopic colitis to be comparable with those of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Nevertheless, microscopic colitis is still under-recognized in clinical practice-most health care workers know little about its etiology and pathophysiology. Furthermore, there are many challenges to the diagnosis and treatment of patients. We review the epidemiologic and clinical features of this disorder and discuss its pathogenesis. We also outline the criteria for histopathologic evaluation of microscopic colitis, recently published by the European Consensus on Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and discuss a treatment algorithm created by the European Microscopic Colitis Group. Treatment options for patients with budesonide-refractory disease are discussed.

Keywords: Colon; EMCG; Immune Response; Therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Budesonide / therapeutic use*
  • Colitis, Microscopic / diagnosis
  • Colitis, Microscopic / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Microscopic / epidemiology*
  • Colitis, Microscopic / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Budesonide