What is Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis?

Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis happens in a person when he or she has complaints of receiving reduced amount of blood in their large intestine. The superior mesenteric artery and the inferior mesenteric artery are the two chief arteries that provide the supply of blood.

Flow of blood is largely reduced in the large intestine (colon) under ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis. This is usually due to any blocks present in the arteries. Thus the digestive system cannot get an enough supply of oxygen.

Ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis causes damage to the colon and is often painful. Normally the pain is experienced in the abdomen or the belly area. But then it can cause pain in any part of the stomach due to the colon damage.

What Causes Ischemic Colitis<

Ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis is often misunderstood with digestive problems. People take it as digestive problems apparently but the problem is even deeper. Ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis is self-curable. However the infection caused due to ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis may require proper medication or even surgeries.

When is Ischemic Colitis Chronic?

Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis when untreated for a long time can cause atherosclerosis i.e., hardening of the arteries. There are chances when chronic ischemic colitis can cure itself. In occasional cases it requires an antibiotic treatment and alteration in the daily diet.

Acute Ischemic Colitis

Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis can be acute if it has syndromes of blood clotting along with it. This syndrome should be corrected immediately. There are higher chances of the sufferer getting affected with gangrene / tissue death due to the damages occurred in the colon.

What is the Etiology of Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis?

Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis is multifactorial. The diagnosis is largely based on a correct blend of endoscopy, medical history justification and clinical suspicion. The severity of ischemic colitis decides the outcome or therapy to be implemented on the patient.

What is the Pathophysiology of Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis?

Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis is recorded more in elderly persons as they suffer more from vascular disease. The blood vessels tend to get narrow during this. The arteries go colic. In acute cases of ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis, the blood flow in the intestinal arteries is less. The flow of blood is much lower in the colon due to predisposed ischemia than the other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

What Causes Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis?

The factors that can cause or increase the chances of ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis causing decreased supply of blood to the colon are:

  • Accumulation of fats on the walls of artery can cause ischemic colitis.
  • Hypotension or lowered blood pressure to a great extent followed by heart failure, shock, trauma or a serious surgery can also cause ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis
  • Less supply of blood to the veins
  • Hernia or presence of other scars or tumor in the tissue causing bowel obstruction
  • Major heart, digestive system or blood vessels surgeries
  • Inflammation of the blood vessels, sickle cell anemia or lupus
  • Consumption of methamphetamine or cocaine
  • On rare occasions the reason for Ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis could be cancer of the colon.

Medications that Can Cause Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis

A few medicines also can also cause ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis. However this is very rare. These are:

  • Medications of scarce group for heart and migraine.
  • Medications of hormone disorder in a person like estrogen.
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Few medications which causes irritation to the bowel.
  • Chemotherapy during the treatment of cancer.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis?

The signs and symptoms of ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis are:

  • Pain occurring in the belly and gradual cramping can be a symptom of ischemic colitis.
  • Presence of blood in the stool or flow of anal blood without stool can also be yet another symptom of Ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis.
  • Frequent urgency to move your bowels but with no results.
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

When the complications are experienced more on the right part of the abdomen, the severity of ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis is considered to be as more. This is due to the blockage in the right side arteries of the colon. This type of ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis experiences more pain.

The intestinal tissue (necrosis) usually dies due to poor supply of blood. This can often be fatal. Surgeries are prescribed to remove the blockages of the intestine to ensure proper flow of blood.

Any time you have serious pain in the abdomen, you should immediately consult the doctor. The abdominal pain can be so severe that you cannot even sit properly during the medical emergency.

Consult your doctor immediately if you see blood in your stool or bloody diarrhea occurs to you. When attended immediately, the syndrome does not get to grow inside the body and can be quickly cured.

Factors of Risk for Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis

The factors of risk in ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis are:

  • The age of the person- People above the age of 60 are recorded to be victims of ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis more. Abnormal blood clotting in the blood vessels may be noticed.
  • Factor V Leiden or abnormalities in blood clotting increases the risk of ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis.
  • High cholesterol level in the blood.
  • Failure of heart or other trauma or shock causing reduction to flow of blood.
  • Previous history of any abdominal surgery.
  • Heavy exercise, such as marathon running, which can lead to reduced blood flow to the colon.
  • Heavy exercise or other physical activity.
  • Any previous surgery in the aorta which pumps blood to the other part of the body.

Complications of Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis

The complications in ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis are:

  • Death of tissue or gangrene due to reduced blood flow.
  • Perforation or presence of hole in the intestine causing persistent bleeding.
  • Inflammation in the bowels or segmented ulcerating colitis.
  • Obstruction in system bowel; also known as ischemic stricture.

Tests to Diagnose Ischemic Colitis or Ischaemic Colitis

Ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis is apparently confused with stomach problems or other disorders. Since there are similarities between the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and ischemic colitis or ischaemic colitis, the physical diagnosis is often not possible. However the doctor may suggest the following imaging tests to diagnose the syndrome:

  • CT (Computed Tomography) scans of abdomen and ultrasound of large intestine.
  • Analysis of stool.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) angiography or CT of blood to detect the blockage of blood flow in your small intestine; this diagnosis is suggested when the doctors suspects Ischemic Colitis to be in the small bowels.
  • Colonoscopy for the proper images of the intestine; it helps detecting cancer as well.

Also Read:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: November 27, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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