Eosinophilic colitis is a rare condition, with a prevalence rate in the USA of 2–3/100 000 persons (0.003%), but diagnosed in 0.1% of biopsies in those colonoscoped for diarrhoea. Secondary colonic eosinophilia is more common and associated with systemic, colonic and infectious diseases. In this review, the latest advances in diagnosis, treatment and prognosis are summarized and discussed.
What constitutes a ‘normal’ count of eosinophils is poorly documented but there are recent studies that establish normal colonic eosinophil ranges as well as distinguishing histological and clinical findings in primary eosinophilic colitis and secondary colonic eosinophilia in children and adults. Primary eosinophilic colitis is rare, relatively straightforward to diagnose, but may be difficult to treat. Colonic eosinophilia may be overt in parasite infection and connective tissue disease. More subtle, secondary colonic eosinophilia is a useful biomarker for gastrointestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, colonic spirochaetosis and collagenous colitis, but the eosinophilia may more often be overlooked. A limited number of drugs are also known to cause left sided colonic eosinophilia such as clopidogrel, ibuprofen and oestroprogestinic agents.
Advances in our understanding of primary eosinophilic colitis and secondary colonic eosinophilia is progressing and if present, colonic eosinophilia should point the clinician and pathologist to a list of differential diagnoses worth considering to direct optimal management.
Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Medicine & Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia
Correspondence to Nicholas J. Talley, MD, PhD, MMedSci, Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Medicine & Public Health, University of Newcastle, HMRI Building, New Lambton, NSW 2305, Australia. Tel: +61 2 4921 5855; fax: +61 2 4042 0034; e-mail: Nicholas.Talley@newcastle.edu.au