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September 1995

Abnormal Rectal Mucosa of the Anal Transitional Zone in Ulcerative Colitis

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pathology (Dr Gilchrist) and Surgery (Drs Harms and Starling), University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison.

Arch Surg. 1995;130(9):981-983. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1995.01430090067021

Objective:  To determine the frequency of atypia and active ulcerative colitis (UC) in rectal mucosa within the anal transitional zone (ATZ).

Design:  Surgeons identified ATZ tissues from restorative proctocolectomy specimens for determination by surgical pathologists of specific histopathologic features in rectal mucosa of the ATZ.

Setting:  Surgical referral center for restorative proctocolectomy.

Patients:  Ninety-four patients with symptomatic UC underwent restorative proctocolectomy between January 1991 and December 1994.

Interventions:  Specific histopathologic features of active UC in the ATZ were evaluated by a single reviewer who did not know the clinicopathologic details of individual study patients.

Main Outcome Measurements:  Presence and coexistence of rectal mucosal dysplasia (high or low grade), mucosa classified as indefinite for dysplasia, and acute UC (crypt abscess or cryptitis) in the ATZ.

Results:  Of 94 ATZ tissue specimens, acute intracryptic inflammation was present in 60 rectal mucosa specimens (64%). In 29 (48%) of these 60 specimens, inflammation was neither widespread nor intense. Rectal mucosal dysplasia (low grade but not high grade) was present in 15 (16%) of 94 ATZs specimens. Inflammation elsewhere in the rectal mucosa accompanied dysplasia in 11 (73%) of 15 ATZ specimens. Rectal mucosa classified as indefinite for dysplasia was present in 24 (26%) of 94 ATZ specimens and coexisted with inflammation in 15 (63%) of these 24. Thus, rectal mucosal atypia was present in 39 (41%) of 94 ATZ specimens, and in 26 (67%) of these 39, abnormal rectal mucosa coexisted with acute inflammation.

Conclusions:  Rectal mucosa in the ATZ can exhibit active UC and/or atypia. Long-term monitoring is advisable if the ATZ is preserved during restorative proctocolectomy.(Arch Surg. 1995;130:981-983)

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