Pathology of the Gastrointestinal Tract

2017 Edition
| Editors: Fátima Carneiro, Paula Chaves, Arzu Ensari

Radiation Colitis

  • Liesbeth FerdinandeEmail author
Reference work entry


Radiation-associated colitis; Radiation proctitis


Radiation colitis results from exposure to ionizing radiation in the treatment of malignancies where the colon is localized in the path of the radiation beam. Tissues containing numerous actively dividing cells such as intestinal epithelial cells are more at risk for the development of radiation-induced injury. An acute and chronic type of radiation colitis is described. The acute changes develop very early within hours to several days after exposure. In this phase, the radiosensitive actively dividing cells of the intestinal epithelium are affected, and histologic changes are mainly observed in the mucosa. This acute syndrome, characterized by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, is usually transient and does not require further diagnostic or therapeutic action. Chronicradiation colitis develops after a symptom-free interval of 6 months to 30 years after radiation. The pathogenesis of this type of injury is based on...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Berthrong, M., & Fajardo, L. F. (1981). Radiation injury in surgical pathology. Part II. Alimentary tract. American Journal of Surgical Pathology, 5, 153–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Coia, L. R., Myerson, R. J., & Tepper, J. E. (1995). Late effects of radiation therapy on the gastrointestinal tract. International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, 31, 1213–1236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gardiner, G. W., McAuliffe, N., & Murray, D. (1984). Colitis cystica profunda occurring in a radiation-induced colonic stricture. Human Pathology, 15, 295–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Leupin, N., Curschmann, J., Kranzbühler, H., Maurer, C. A., Laissue, J. A., & Mazzucchelli, L. (2002). Acute radiation colitis in patients treated with short-term preoperative radiotherapy for rectal cancer. American Journal of Surgical Pathology, 26, 498–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Novak, J. M., Collins, J. T., Donowitz, M., Farman, J., Sheahan, D. G., & Spiro, H. M. (1979). Effects of radiation on the human gastrointestinal tract. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 1, 9–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PathologyGhent University HospitalGhentBelgium