The clinical presentation and outcome of ischemic colitis has a wide spectrum. Impaired perfusion of blood to the bowel from a variety of causes is the underlying pathophysiology. The presence of diarrhea, abdominal pain, and mild lower gastrointestinal bleeding should prompt consideration of ischemic colitis as a cause. Although many laboratory tests and radiographic images may suggest the diagnosis, endoscopic visualization of colonic mucosa with histologic analysis of biopsies is the gold standard for identification of colonic ischemia. Most cases are transient and resolve without any complications. Medical therapy for chronic ischemia has been anecdotally proven but not carefully studied. Complications of ischemic colitis can include bowel perforation, peritonitis, persistent bleeding, protein-losing colopathy, and symptomatic intestinal strictures. Thus, surgical resection of the affected segment should be considered early to minimize adverse outcomes. This review describes the etiology, pathophysiology, clinical features, diagnostic approach, and management of ischemic colitis.
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