Causes of hematochezia and hemorrhagic antibiotic-associated colitis in children and adolescents

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Abstract

Diseases causing hematochezia range from benign to potentially life-threatening. Systematic pediatric data on the causes of hematochezia are scarce. We studied the underlying causes and long-term outcome of hematochezia in children. We further investigated the relevance of antibiotic-associated hemorrhagic colitis in children, especially if caused by Klebsiella oxytoca.

Infants, children, and adolescents with hematochezia were recruited prospectively. Patients were grouped according to age (<1 year, 1–5 years, 6–13 years, >14 years). In addition to routine diagnostics, K oxytoca stool culture and toxin analysis was performed. We collected data on history, laboratory findings, microbiological diagnostic, imaging, final diagnosis, and long-term outcome.

We included 221 patients (female 46%; age 0–19 years). In 98 (44%), hematochezia was caused by infectious diseases. Endoscopy was performed in 30 patients (13.6%). No patient died due to the underlying cause of hematochezia. The most common diagnoses according to age were food protein-induced proctocolitis in infants, bacterial colitis in young children, and inflammatory bowel disease in children and adolescents. Seventeen (7.7%) had a positive stool culture for K oxytoca. Antibiotic-associated colitis was diagnosed in 12 (5%) patients: 2 caused by K oxytoca and 2 by Clostridium difficile; in the remaining 8 patients, no known pathobiont was identified.

Infections were the most common cause of hematochezia in this study. In most patients, invasive diagnostic procedures were not necessary. Antibiotic-associated hemorrhagic colitis caused by K oxytoca was an uncommon diagnosis in our cohort. Antibiotic-associated colitis with hematochezia might be caused by pathobionts other than C difficile or K oxytoca.

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