Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 128–139 | Cite as

Update on the Diagnosis and Management of Colon Ischemia

  • Ann D. FlynnEmail author
  • John F. Valentine
Colon (C Kahi, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Colon

Opinion statement

Colonic ischemia is the most common ischemic disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. The condition occurs more commonly in women, and risk increases with advancing age. Presenting symptoms include abdominal pain, bowel urgency, and passage of bloody diarrhea; however, nearly one half of patients do not present with this classic triad of symptoms. Abdominal pain without bloody diarrhea or non-bloody diarrhea should raise concern for an isolated right colon pattern of ischemia. An isolated right colon distribution is associated with more severe outcomes, including need for surgical intervention and increased mortality. Patients that present with symptoms concerning for ischemia should undergo computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen and pelvis with oral and IV contrast and laboratory testing. Colonoscopy should be performed in patients without evidence of peritonitis. Medical history should be obtained to identify possible etiologies of ischemia. Thrombophilia workup should be considered in young patients and those with recurrent ischemia, but is not required universally. In cases of isolated right colon ischemia, evaluation of the mesenteric vasculature is particularly important, for exclusion of concurrent acute mesenteric ischemia. Treatment of ischemic colitis is supportive in less severe cases, with intravenous fluids and bowel rest. Broad-spectrum antibiotics should be initiated, and surgical consultation should be obtained in cases of severe disease, pancolonic ischemia, and isolated right colonic ischemia. Surgery should be performed for peritonitis, hemodynamic instability, or failure of non-operative management. This article will review colonic ischemia diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment.


Colon ischemia Reperfusion Acute mesenteric ischemia 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Ann D. Flynn and John F. Valentine declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and NutritionUniversity of Utah School of MedicineSalt LakeUSA

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