PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To provide an update on the epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and management of colonic ischemia.
RECENT FINDINGS: Formerly regarded as a rare cause of lower gastrointestinal hemorrhage, colonic ischemia is now recognized to be the most common manifestation of intestinal vascular compromise. In contrast to ischemic events in the small intestine wherein thrombotic and embolic events predominate, colonic ischemia typically results from a global reduction in blood flow to the colon and no occlusive lesion(s) are evident. Several risk factors for colonic ischemia have been identified and, together with an appropriate clinical presentation and patient demographics, create a context in which the clinician should have a high level of suspicion for its presence. Imaging with computerized tomography, in particular, may be highly supportive of the diagnosis, which where appropriate can be confirmed by colonoscopy and colonic biopsy. For most patients, management is supportive and noninterventional, and the prognosis for recurrence and survival are excellent.
SUMMARY: Colonic ischemia is a common cause of lower abdominal pain and hemorrhage among the elderly typically occurring in the aftermath of an event which led to hypoperfusion of the colon. For most affected individuals the ischemia is reversible and clinical course benign.