CC: Bright red blood per rectum, abdominal pain
Case Presentation: 27yr old male Guatemalan immigrant with no past medical history presents with complaints of bloody stools for seven months. The patient notes 9-10 bowel movements per day. He describes bowel movements as loose and explains that roughly half of his bowel movements are bloody. The patient describes stools as blood streaked with bright red blood on toilet paper. His bowel movements are associated with daily cramping non-radiating diffuse abdominal pain that is somewhat relieved after having a bowel movement. Over the course of seven months leading up to his presentation, the patient has noted approximately 35lb unintentional weight loss. He notes progressively worsening excessive fatigue and dizziness but denies fevers, chills, sweats, pre-syncope/syncope, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, SOB, palpitations, dysuria. He denies any visual changes, joint pain, rashes, oral ulcers. He has no significant past medical histories or allergy and is not taking any medication. His family histories are also unremarkable for autoimmune disease or GI/GU cancers. He is a social smoker but no other illicit substances or alcohol use. On exam, he was tachycardic to 137bpm on presentation, hypotensive to 86/46, afebrile, and breathing on room air saturating at 100% SaO2. There is no abdominal distention, soft, and mild tender throughout all four quadrants. The digital rectal exam did not reveal any gross blood, melena, visible ulcerations, or palpable masses. Extremities are warm to touch with strong capillaries refill and symmetric 2+ DP/PT pulses. Neurologic exam is nonfocal. The complete metabolic panel was unremarkable. Complete blood count was significant for a normocytic anemia with elevated RDW, a neutrophilic predominant leukocytosis without a left shift, and thrombocythemia.
Other pertinent workup:
Iron panel: serum iron 20 mcg/dL; TIBC 152 mcg/dL; iron sat 13%; ferritin 145 ng/mL
ESR 52 mmh/hr
CRP 155.1 mg/L
C. Diff stool toxin negative
Blood culture x 2 negative
Stool culture negative
Stool O&P many white blood cells. No ova or parasites.
Giardia stool Ag negative
Quantiferon gold negative
Hepatitis A IgG positive (Otherwise Hepatitis serologies negative)
CT Abdomen/Pelvic with contrast: Diffuse contiguous bowel wall thickening from rectum to transverse colon. Proxmial jejunum thickening. Malrotation of SMV to the left of SMA. Small paraesophageal hernia. Diffuse osteopenia.
Hospital Course: Patient was admitted for sepsis due to (WBC >12k, tachycardia, hypotension, likely GI source), blood cultures, stool studies, ESR/CRP sent, CT abdomen pelvis showed contiguous diffuse bowel wall thickening, patient was started on empiric antibiotics (ceftriaxone and flagyl). GI was consulted and recommended starting solumedrol 20mg overnight. Next day, colonoscopy was performed which showed findings consistent with ulcerative colitis (Mayo UC endoscopy score II/III). The patient was continued on IV solumedrol with a plan to transition to biologics. Supplemental testing (hepatitis, HIV, Quantiferon gold) performed in preparation for biologics. Patient clinically improved over the next 3 days with downtrending CRP to 10.8 (from 155) and was transitioned to oral prednisone on the day of discharge. Plan to obtain outpatient MRE small bowel follow through to evaluate for strictures and GI follow up.
Morning Report Pearls:
IBD encompasses both UC and Crohn’s disease, both of which are clinically distinct and overlapping disorders of the GI tract.
- Ulcerative Colitis (UC): submucosal, limited to colon, 95% involves the rectum and often extends proximally in contiguous nature.
- Crohn’s disease (CD): transmural, anywhere from mouth to anus, often in a skip lesion pattern. Propensity for fibrosis, obstruction, stricture, and perforation.
IBD has a Bimodal distribution that most commonly occur in patients ages 15-40 and 50-80. Affects men and women equally, as well as all races and ethnicities; though more commonly seen in Ashkenazi Jews.
When approaching suspected presentation of IBD, important differential diagnosis to consider are infectious mimics of IBD including C. difficile, Shigella, Salmonella, Camylobater, Yersinia, Amoebiasis, and EHEC. CMV, HSV, KS are important to consider in immunocompromised host. Other considerations includes appendicitis, diverticulitis, ischemic colitis, celiac sprue, radiation enteritis, GI cancer, lymphoma.
Initial workup should focus on ruling out infectious causes (Stool O&P, culture, C. diff, CRP, serology for celiac sprue if indicated). C. diff toxin and CT abdomen should be considered first in acute presentation or if the patient is unstable for colonoscopy.
Treatment is targeted based disease severity and should typically be managed by GI/IBD specialist.
- Mild (<4 BMs/day, with or without blood)
- Moderate (>4 BMs/day, with or without blood)
- Severe (>6 BMs, usually with blood and s/sx of systemic toxicity e.g. fever, tachycardia, ESR/CRP elevation, anemia)
- Fulminant (>10 BMs, continuous bleed, abdominal distention and tenderness, toxic appearing )
Important to obtain the following prior to initiating immunomodulator therapy:
- PPD/Quantiferon Gold
- Hepatitis serologies (particular hepatitis B due to risk of reactivation)
- TPMT level
From a primary care standpoint, annual or biannual surveillance colonoscopies with biopsies are indicated for cancer surveillance 8-10 years after initial diagnosis of UC due to markedly increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Lastly, an important fun fact to know is that smoking is protective for UC but worsens for Crohn’s disease.