Why Does this Patient Have Colitis?

Just in time for this year’s Peachtree Road Race…

A brief report (RS Robinson et al. Gastroenterol 2018; 154: 1582-83) presents a case of a 28 year old, who had been in training for a marathon, with mild iron deficiency anemia, lower abdominal pain, and bloody bowel movements. The CT scan and colonoscopy showed diffuse colonic/ileal inflammation; the histology showed mucosal necrosis, crypt atrophy and acute inflammation (see below).

Answer to title question: Runner’s Colitis.  The authors note that in some long-distance runners an ischemic colitis can develop in part due to rerouting of blood with prolonged exercise.  Dehydration may exacerbate poor perfusion.  The splenic flexure and the rectosigmoid junction are particularly susceptible due to the ‘watershed’ nature of their blood supply.

The majority of individuals recover fully from this insult, though the literature describes one individual who required a subtotal colectomy after perforation.