Ischemic colitis is the inflammatory disorder of the large intestine (i.e. colon) which develops due to an inadequate blood supply to the colon. Ischemic colitis can occur in any part of the colon but usually causes pain on the left side of the abdomen.
Ischemic colitis develops due to the poor blood supply to the colon which reduces the oxygen supply to the cells of the colon. This happens as a result of the hardening of the mesenteric arteries which supply the colon. The hardening begins due to fatty deposits in the arteries called plaque formation.
An acute form of ischemic colitis can occur due to the formation of clots and is a medical emergency. Plaque formation in the arteries leads to chronic ischemic colitis. The condition can also lead to the death of the patient if the death of the tissue occurs in the colon.
The most common symptom of ischemic colitis is the abdominal pain. The pain occurs suddenly and is similar to the feeling of stomach cramps. It usually occurs after eating.
Blood may be seen in the stools which is not much severe in the case of ischemic colitis unlike other forms of colitis.
Other symptoms include:
Generally, ischemic colitis is self-limiting, i.e. it improves by itself, within two to three days. However, complications can arise if more severe forms are not treated on time. They include:
The risk of you getting severe complications is high if you have pain in the right side of the abdomen.
The symptoms of ischemic colitis are similar to many other conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (which are not linked to blood flow but are due to a poor immune system). Therefore, to confirm if you have ischemic colitis, your doctor performs the following tests:
|Test type||Purpose of the test|
|Imaging tests||Produce detailed images from different angles of the colon and the associated blood vessels|
|Stool samples||To check for the presence of any infections producing the symptoms|
|Colonoscopy||To look the inside of your colon|
|Biopsy||Tissue sample from the colon is also collected to confirm the diagnosis|
The intake of liquid diet for over a short period along with antibiotics can help in improving mild conditions. You will be giving fluids through IV line to keep you hydrated. You should not eat or drink anything for a few days till your colon heals.
In the case of a severe ischemic colitis, your surgeon will remove the dead tissue and repair the damage. Other surgical procedures include
A colonoscopy is performed to check if there are no lasting problems.
If you have an underlying condition, then medications are given to treat them.
You should avoid medications such as migraine drugs, certain heart drugs, and hormone medications which cause constriction of the blood vessels.
Most of the people get complete relief from the condition with the treatment but in few cases, there can be a relapse.
Follow the below tips to prevent the odds of ischemic colitis: