Ischemic colitis

Dis Colon Rectum. 1996 Jan;39(1):88-100. doi: 10.1007/BF02048275.


Ischemic colitis represents the most common form of gastrointestinal ischemia. The presumed etiologies are numerous; however, it typically develops "spontaneously," in the absence of major vasculature occlusion, and in the presence of viable intestine elsewhere. It is most usefully classified into gangrenous and nongangrenous forms, the latter of which may be subdivided into transient and chronic types. Ischemic colitis may develop in people who are otherwise healthy, although a variety of clinical settings, such as shock, predispose to its occurrence. It usually presents as an acute abdominal illness with bloody diarrhea. Diagnosis is confirmed by colonoscopy. Therapy and outcome are dependent on the severity of disease. Nongangrenous colonic ischemia usually requires only medical management and is associated with a good prognosis. The chronic subtype may lead to the sequelae of persistent segmental colitis or colonic strictures, occasionally requiring surgery. Urgent operative intervention and a high morbidity and mortality are the hallmarks of gangrenous colonic ischemia. Special considerations must be given to those patients in whom ischemic colitis develops in the context of colon carcinoma or obstructing colon lesions, after abdominal aortic surgery, and following cardiopulmonary bypass. This review will discuss the clinical spectrum of ischemic colitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colitis, Ischemic* / classification
  • Colitis, Ischemic* / diagnosis
  • Colitis, Ischemic* / etiology
  • Colitis, Ischemic* / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome