Fulminant amoebic colitis: a clinicopathological study of 30 cases

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To review the clinical and pathological factors associated with fulminant amoebic colitis (FAC) requiring colonic resection and its outcome.


We retrospectively identified adult patients admitted to our centre between June 2007 and December 2011 with FAC who underwent colonic resection and were diagnosed with amoebic colitis based on the presence of trophozoites on histological examination. The clinical details were extracted from the medical notes and correlated with the pathological findings.


Thirty patients (18 men and 12 women) met the inclusion criteria. Their mean age was 50.1 years (range 21–89). The most frequent symptoms were abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. More than half the patients (16/30) had underlying conditions associated with immunosuppression including diabetes mellitus and tuberculosis. Pathological investigation of colonic resections showed predominantly right-sided involvement with geographic colonic ulcers covered with a creamy-white pseudomembrane, perforations, gangrenous changes, amoeboma and lesions mimicking inflammatory bowel disease. All showed basophilic dirty necrosis with abundant nuclear debris and amoebic trophozoites on histological examination. 21/30 patients (70%) had involvement beyond the caecum. 17/30 patients (57%) died. Those with involvement beyond the caecum were more likely to die (15/21, 71.4%) than those with less extensive disease.


FAC presents as acute abdomen and can mimic appendicitis, ischaemic bowel disease, tuberculosis and malignancy. Comorbidities causing immunosuppression frequently associated. Mortality remains high despite surgery, so FAC should be suspected in every case of acute abdomen with colonic perforation if associated with typical gross and microscopic findings and a history of stay in an endemic area.

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