Send to

Choose Destination
Hum Pathol. 2009 Apr;40(4):572-7. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2008.10.008. Epub 2009 Jan 13.

Strongyloides colitis is a lethal mimic of ulcerative colitis: the key morphologic differential diagnosis.

Author information

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Strongyloides stercoralis colitis is a severe, but easily curable, form of strongyloidiasis that carries a high mortality rate if untreated. Autoinfection characteristic of Strongyloides stercoralis frequently makes the infection a life-long disease unless it is effectively treated. Our experience with 4 cases of Strongyloides colitis prompted us to assess the clinical outcome of the disease by literature review. In this case series, the misdiagnosis and resultant mortality rates of Strongyloides colitis are 52% and 39.1%, respectively. A low index of suspicion and morphologic resemblance to ulcerative colitis were the main sources of diagnostic error. Ulcerative colitis alone accounted for 38.5% of the erroneous diagnoses. Features of Strongyloides colitis that contrast with those of ulcerative colitis include (1) skip pattern of the inflammation, (2) distal attenuation of the disease, (3) eosinophil-rich infiltrates, (4) relative intact crypt architecture, and (5) frequent involvement of submucosa. We also found that history of steroid therapy, chronic colitis refractory to conventional immune-modifying management, and endoscopic finding of distal attenuation of the colitis are helpful clues. It is also our experience that if Strongyloides colitis is included in the differential diagnosis, the correct diagnosis can usually be made. Current therapy with ivermectin or albendazole is very effective at a cure rate greater than 98%. We believe that the misdiagnosis and mortality rates of this curable, but often, unnecessarily deadly, infectious disease are alarming and warrant efforts to increase the awareness of the disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center