What is the pathophysiology of pseudomembranous colitis?

Updated: Oct 02, 2017
  • Author: David A Piccoli, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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Answer

Pseudomembranous colitis is a form of inflammatory colitis characterized by the pathologic presence of pseudomembranes consisting of mucin, fibrin, necrotic cells, and polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs).

This form of colitis is pathognomonic of infection by toxin-producing Clostridium difficile and develops as a result of altered normal microflora (usually by antibiotic therapy) that favors overgrowth and colonization of the intestine by Clostridium difficile and production of its toxins. Although every antibiotic has been reported to be associated with pseudomembranous colitis, cephalosporin and beta-lactam antibiotics are most frequently implicated in children. Cases in children with underlying comorbid conditions, IBD in particular, are also common. [4]


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