Small bowel (small intestine)
Inflammatory disorders
Radiation enterocolitis

Author: Hanni Gulwani, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 13 February 2018, last major update August 2012

Copyright: (c) 2003-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Radiation enterocolitis small bowel

Cite this page: Gulwani, H. Radiation enterocolitis. website. Accessed March 20th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Observed acutely or years after radiation therapy for cervical carcinoma, Wilms tumor, lymphoma or other peritoneal tumors
Clinical features
  • Acute: anorexia, cramps, diarrhea due to mucosal injury and malabsorption
  • Chronic: may present as inflammatory colitis or indolent; also vascular injury, ischemic fibrosis, stricture
  • Treatment: resection if severe
Gross description
  • Thickened bowel wall
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Varies from mild epithelial damage to massive necrosis and ulceration (BMC Surg 2004;4:10)
  • Loss of columnar shape and nuclear polarity of enterocytes, nuclear pyknosis, bizarre nuclei, mucin depletion and decreased mitoses
  • Also fibroblasts and endothelium with submucosal edema but low nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio, preservation of architecture
  • No desmoplasia, no infiltrative pattern

  • Atrophic and ulcerated mucosa, ectatic blood vessels, fibrosis of submucosa and muscular wall, vascular wall thickening, vascular stenosis
  • Possible fistula formation, atherosclerosis-like changes of vasculature (subintimal lipid laden macrophages, calcification, thrombosis), hyalinization of lamina propria
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Acute changes (mice)