Diversion colitis in patients with myelopathy: Clinical, endoscopic, and histopathological findings

James H. Frisbie, Naveed Ahmed, Ikuo Hirano, Michael A. Klein, David I. Soybel

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13 Scopus citations


Objective: One of the problems with a diverting colostomy, applied in patients with myelopathy for complications of the neuropathic large bowel, is diversion colitis. A clinical, endoscopic, and histological survey was conducted to describe the problem in these patients. Methods: 19 patients with myelopathy who have had colostomies (68% of those available) participated in the survey. History of rectal discharge and perineal ulceration plus colonoscopic and biopsy observations were recorded. 20 patients with myelopathy who have not had colostomies, with clinically indicated colonoscopic examinations, were compared for skin breakdown and endoscopic appearance. Results: 15 patients who had colostomies (79%) reported rectal discharge, and 9 (47%) sustained perineal ulceration, 2 being recurrent and refractory. None of the 20 patients who had not had colostomies had perineal ulceration (p = 0.04). Colonoscopy revealed mucosal erythema and friability in 18 patients (94%) with a predominance in the rectosigmoid colon. 1 of 20 without colostomy presented with this picture (p < 0.001). Mucosal biopsies of diverted colon revealed chronic inflammation in all patients, severe inflammation in 13 of 19 subjects at ≤ 20 cm from the anus, and in 3 of 10 at > 20 cm (p = 0.06). No difference in the severity of inflammation with time, 0 to 2 years versus > 2 to 18 years post colostomy, could be demonstrated. Conclusions: Diversion colitis is a frequent, persistent, and sometimes problematic complication in patients with myelopathy who have also had colostomies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology


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