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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The frequency of microscopic and focal active colitis in patients with irritable bowel syndrome

Kamil Ozdil1, Abdurrahman Sahin1*, Turan Calhan1, Resul Kahraman1, Adil Nigdelioglu1, Umit Akyuz2 and Hacı M Sokmen1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastroenterology, Umraniye Training and Research Hospital, Adem Yavuz street No:1, Umraniye, Postal code:34766, Istanbul, TURKEY

2 Department of Gastroenterology, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Training and Research Hospital, Ataşehir, Postal code: 34770, Istanbul, TURKEY

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BMC Gastroenterology 2011, 11:96  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-11-96

Published: 31 August 2011



Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional bowel disorder. The frequency of microscopic colitis and focal active colitis in the colonic mucosa has been investigated in IBS patients.


Between June 2007 and September 2010, 378 patients (between 16 and 84 years) were recruited prospectively. Of these 378 patients, 226 patients were diagnosed with IBS using the Rome III criteria. 152 control patients were also enrolled who were undergoing colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening or investigation of anemia. Histopathological abnormalities identified during colonoscopy were compared between the IBS and control groups.


The average age of the IBS group was 46.13 ± 14.16 years and and the average age of the control group was 57.01 ± 13.07 years. The prevalence of microscopic colitis (MC) in the diarrhea predominant and the mixed subgroup of IBS patients was 4.32% (7/162) whereas in all IBS patients, the prevalence was 3.09% (7/226). MC was not found in the 152 control cases, (p = 0.045). Lymphocytic colitis was seen in 7 IBS patients, with 1 case in the mixed group and 6 cases in the diarrhea group and there was a significant difference in the frequency of lymphocytic colitis between the IBS subgroups (p < 0.01). Focal active colitis was found in 6.6% (15/226) of the IBS patients and in none of the controls (p < 0.01), and there was no differences between IBS subtypes.


Microscopic colitis was more often found in the diarrhea predominant/mixed subgroups of IBS patients and in patients who were older women. In patients who are older woman with non-constipated IBS, it may be reasonable to perform a biopsy to screen for microscopic colitis. Focal active colitis was significantly increased in patients with IBS compared to controls.

irritable bowel syndrome; microscopic colitis; focal active colitis