Pseudomembranous colitis

J Clin Pathol. 1977 Jan;30(1):1-12. doi: 10.1136/jcp.30.1.1.


Three basic histopathological patterns which may be seen in rectal biopsies from patients with pseudomembranous colitis are described, based on a study of 29 cases. The spectrum of change is illustrated and the problems of differential diagnosis are discussed--from a non-diagnostic proctitis at one extreme to acute ischaemia at the other. In the differential diagnosis of the acute colitic, the importance of urgent rectal biopsy and a carefully taken drug history is stressed. The association of pseudomembranous colitis with pre-existing disease and antibiotic therapy is confirmed. It is suggested that these cause local mucosal damage and may trigger the first part of a local Shwartzman reaction. Capillary microthrombosis may then paly a part in producing the mucosal necrosis seen later in the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Colon / blood supply
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / chemically induced
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / diagnosis
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents