Diversion proctocolitis and the problem of the forgotten rectum in inflammatory bowel diseases: A systematic review

Arianna Dal Buono, Michele Carvello, David B. Sachar, Antonino Spinelli, Silvio Danese, Giulia Roda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background and aims: Diversion proctocolitis (DP) is a non-specific mucosal inflammation arising in the defunctionalized colon and/or rectum following faecal diversion (colostomy, ileostomy). Differential diagnosis of DP from the underlying disease in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is often unclear. As a result, it might be difficult to undertake any specific treatment. We aimed to systematically review the literature evidence on DP in IBD patients. Methods: For this qualitative systematic review, we searched PubMed, EMBASE and Scopus to identify all studies published until July 2021 including IBD patients affected by DP. Results: Overall, 37 papers published between 1982 and 2021 were included. A total of 1.211 IBD patients were included: 613 UC (50.6%), 524 CD (43.3%), 66 IBD-unclassified (IBD-U) (5.4%), 8 unspecified patients (0.7%). Most patients with DP are asymptomatic, although inflammation is detectable in almost all patients with a rectal stump. Reduced short-chain fatty acids and an altered microbiome, may trigger mucosal inflammation and have been proposed as causing factors. An increased risk of developing cancer on DP has been reported in patients with a history of previous dysplasia/cancer. Conclusions: The etiopathogenesis of DP is still unknown. The efficacy of mesalamine, corticosteroids or short-chain fatty acids has not been proven by randomized trials yet. Since the incidence of cancer of the rectal stump can reach 4.5 per 1.000 diverted patients-year, IBD patients undergoing subtotal colectomy with end-ileostomy should undergo close endoscopic surveillance, being eventually counseled for surgery with or without the restoration of the intestinal continuity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1157-1167
Number of pages11
JournalUnited European Gastroenterology Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • diversion
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • rectal stump
  • short-chain fatty acids
  • surgical outcomes


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