Polypoid dysplasia and adenomas in inflammatory bowel disease: a clinical, pathologic, and follow-up study of 89 polyps from 59 patients

Am J Surg Pathol. 1998 Mar;22(3):275-84. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199803000-00001.


Dysplasia in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is categorized as either flat or associated with a raised lesion or mass (dysplasia-associated lesion or mass [DALM]). One specific subtype of a dysplasia-associated lesion or mass consists of isolated discrete nodules or polyps that are difficult to distinguish from sporadic adenomas. Because the clinical management of these two lesions is different, we performed this study to (1) evaluate the clinical presentation, pathologic features, and natural history of polypoid dysplastic lesions and sporadic adenomas in patients with IBD and (2) determine whether there are clinical, endoscopic, or pathologic findings useful in differentiating between these two lesions. The morphologic features of 89 benign polypoid epithelial neoplasms from 59 patients with IBD (51 with ulcerative colitis, 8 with Crohn's colitis) were evaluated and correlated with the clinical, endoscopic, and follow-up data. In a separate analysis, patients were categorized arbitrarily as having (1) a probable sporadic adenoma if the polypoid epithelial neoplasm was not located within areas of histologically proven colitis, (2) a probable IBD-associated polypoid dysplasia if the lesion developed within an area of colitis, and associated flat dysplasia or an adenocarcinoma was detected during follow-up evaluation or (3) an indeterminate polyp, which was seen in the remainder of the cases. The clinical, endoscopic, and histologic data were compared among these three patient and polyp subgroups. There were 35 males and 24 females (median age, 57 years; range, 27-85 years). Median duration of disease was 10 years. Forty-nine percent of the patients had pancolitis; 66% had histologically active disease at the time of presentation. Nearly 70% of patients had only one polyp; the majority occurred in either the left colon or the rectum (66%). Most polyps were described as a sessile nodule, whereas only 7 (7.8%) were pedunculated. Polyps ranged from 2 mm to 50 mm (median, 5 mm); most had a tubular architecture (84.3%) and contained low-grade dysplasia (64%). In addition, most polyps had mildly increased lamina propria and intraepithelial neutrophilic and mononuclear inflammation. At follow-up evaluation (40 patients; median follow-up time, 13 months; range, 1-78 months), a further neoplastic lesion developed in 20%; low-grade flat dysplasia was seen in 5 (12.5%), and adenocarcinoma developed in 3 (7.5%). However, dysplasia or adenocarcinoma did not develop in the patients who had polyps located outside of areas of histologically proven colitis. In addition, at least one more benign polypoid epithelial neoplasm developed in 15 of 40 patients (37.5%). Patients with probable IBD-associated polypoid dysplasia had a statistically significant (p < 0.05), longer disease duration than patients with probable sporadic adenoma. A statistically significant, higher proportion of polyps with tubullovillous or villous architecture, an admixture of normal and dysplastic epithelium at the surface of the polyps, and increased lamina propria mononuclear inflammation was noted in probable IBD-associated polypoid dysplastic lesions compared with those considered to be sporadic adenomas. Several clinical and pathologic features may be useful to help categorize a polypoid dysplastic lesion as a sporadic adenoma or an IBD-related neoplasm in a patient with IBD. This distinction is important because the natural history of these two lesions (as shown by the results of this study) and their subsequent management are quite different.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / pathology*
  • Adenoma / physiopathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology*
  • Colonic Polyps / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Precancerous Conditions*