Background & Aims: Strictures in Crohn's disease (CD) are classically attributed to fibromuscular hypertrophy of the intestinal wall. We have identified and characterized CD-related ileal strictures that result instead from mural constriction (ie, reduced external circumference). Methods: Twenty-four strictures and internal controls from 17 adults with obstructive CD were analyzed by cross-sectional morphometry. Results: The stricture-to-control circumference ratios (CRs) ranged from 0.53 to 1.7. Six strictures with CR ≥1.0, designated hypertrophic, had concentrically thickened walls, mean 3-fold increases in cross-sectional area and stainable fibromucular tissue, and high transmural inflammation scores. In contrast, 18 strictures with CR <1.0, designated constrictive, had thin, pliant walls, cross-sectional areas and stainable fibromuscular tissue comparable with control values, and low transmural inflammation scores. Eight mildly constrictive strictures also showed mild fibromuscular mural expansion that fell short of statistical significance. Twelve of 18 constrictive strictures (67%) occurred multiply (2–4 strictures per specimen) in contrast with hypertrophic strictures, all of which occurred singly (P = .01). Constriction correlated quantitatively with circumferential serosal fat wrapping (P = .003) and was associated with myenteric lymphocytic plexitis (P = .02). Disease duration was shortest among subjects with constrictive strictures and correlated with increasing circumference (CR ≤0.8, 6.3 ± 6.2 years; CR >0.8, 8.7 ± 6.4 years; and CR ≥1.00, 13.7 ± 5.0 years, respectively; P = .03). Conclusions: Constrictive ileal strictures in CD differ pathologically and clinically from hypertrophic strictures, featuring little or no fibromuscular mural expansion, frequent multiplicity, and earlier onset. Mesenteric fat wrapping and myenteric plexitis may contribute to their pathogenesis. Pathologic manifestations of constriction and hypertrophy can coexist, suggesting that stricture heterogeneity may be shaped in part by the dynamics of constrictive and hypertrophic processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1292-e1304
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Contrictive
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Strictures


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