Rectal ischemia is rare because of excellent collateral supply. Although rectosigmoid ischemia is usually accompanied by more proximal colonic involvement, it may occur alone.
Methods: A retrospective review of all patients diagnosed as having colonic ischemia at the Mayo Clinic from 1976 to 1991 was performed. Clinical, endoscopic, radiological, and pathological data were obtained from patient charts. Patients with involvement of the rectosigmoid colon extending to no more than 30 cm above the dentate line on endoscopy were included in the study. A single radiologist reviewed CT scans and aortograms, and a single pathologist reviewed tissue specimens.
Results: Ten of 328 patients with ischemic colitis had isolated ischemic proctosigmoiditis. Six patients had acute ischemia (i.e., symptom duration of less than 4 wk), and four had chronic ischemia (symptoms for 4 wk or longer). Ischemic proctosigmoiditis affects elderly patients with atherosclerosis. An identifiable precipitating factor, such as a major illness or hemodynamic disturbance, was identified in four of six patients with acute ischemic proctosigmoiditis and in one of four patients with chronic ischemic proctosigmoiditis. CT revealed rectal wall thickening and/or perirectal stranding. Angiography may demonstrate atheromatous disease of the aortoiliac vessels. Acute and "chronic" presentations had similar histopathological changes.
Conclusions: Ischemic proctosigmoiditis is rare. In contrast to generalized colonic ischemia, patients with acute rectal ischemia often have clearly identifiable precipitating factors. Conservative management is appropriate for uncomplicated acute ischemic proctosigmoiditis. Patients with chronic ischemic proctosigmoiditis. Patients with chronic ischemic proctosigmoiditis may develop bowel perforation necessitating a proctectomy or colonic diversion. Recognition of this entity and differentiation from idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease is important to determine appropriate therapy.