Virchows Archiv

, Volume 472, Issue 1, pp 15–28 | Cite as

Classification of eosinophilic disorders of the small and large intestine

  • Aoife J. McCarthy
  • Kieran Sheahan
Invited Annual Review Issue


Eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs), including eosinophilic gastroenteritis and eosinophilic colitis, have been increasing in prevalence in Western countries in recent years. Eosinophils are normally scanty in the gastrointestinal tract, and increased numbers of eosinophils can denote pathology. Normal values for tissue eosinophils vary widely between different segments of the colon, thus location of the biopsy is critically important for the interpretation of findings. However, no standard diagnostic criteria have been proposed for the diagnosis of eosinophilic gastroenteritis or eosinophilic colitis. Gut eosinophilia encompasses entitites that are predominantly immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated, the primary EGIDs and those that are secondary and not IgE-mediated. A final diagnosis of eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases requires careful pathological assessment, clinical correlation and exclusion of several differential diagnoses.


Colitis Enteritis Eosinophilic Eosinophils Gastroenteritis Intestine 



The authors thank Professor Runjan Chetty and Dr. Stefano Serra, Department of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine Program, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada for providing some images for this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

The authors have complied with ethical standards.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistopathologySt. Vincent’s University HospitalDublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.School of MedicineUniversity College DublinDublinIreland

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