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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1996 Jul;11(7):681-5.

Microvascular disturbances in the colonic mucosa in antibiotic-associated haemorrhagic colitis: involvement of platelet aggregation.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Nippon Kokan Hospital, Kanagawa, Japan.


An ultrastructural study of the colonic mucosa was performed in four patients with antibiotic-associated haemorrhagic colitis and new findings are reported. Colonoscopy was performed and biopsy specimens were obtained within 24 h of the onset of bloody diarrhoea. Colonoscopy demonstrated diffuse oedematous and haemorrhagic mucosa with erosions and white coat. Light microscopy revealed mucosal haemorrhage and inflammatory cell infiltration. Ultrastructurally, platelet aggregation was frequently present in the lumina of colonic mucosal capillaries, causing engorgement of red blood cells in adjacent microvessels. Mild to severe damage was observed in capillary endothelial cells, including discontinuity of basement membranes, gaps between endothelial cells and the destruction of capillaries. There was no evidence of microvascular spasm. In conclusion, our findings suggest that antibiotics directly or indirectly cause microcirculatory disturbances, which result in tissue damage and haemorrhage, in the colonic mucosa.

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