What are potential complications of colitis?

Updated: Jan 04, 2019
  • Author: David A Piccoli, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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The most serious acute complication of UC is toxic megacolon with the risk of perforation. It is reported to occur in up to 5% of all patients with UC but is a relatively uncommon entity in pediatric patients. Toxic megacolon is more common in UC than in CD. In a single-center case-controlled study of toxic megacolon in children, only 2/10 patients had a CD phenotype; the remainder had UC. [11]

The risk of colon cancer increases after 8-10 years of having UC. The complications of CD tend to increase with time and include bowel strictures, fistulas, abscess, and intestinal obstruction. After surgery, patients may develop short bowel syndrome and malabsorption. The complications of colitis caused by IBD are addressed in greater detail in the articles on Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is the best-known and most important complication of colitis caused by enterohemorrhagic E coli (EHEC).

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