What is Chemical Colitis?

Chemical Colitis

Chemical Colitis

As the name suggests, the cause of Chemical Colitis is due to the introduction of certain harsh chemicals to the large colon that lead to damage of the wall.

There are a few reasons why this could happen such as: contaminated endescopic hardware; intentional use of chemicals during administration of an enema or unintentional use of chemicals during administration of an enema.

Chemicals that typically lead to the start of inflammation are:

  • Hydrogen peroxide - used to sterilize medical equipment
  • Glutaraldehyde - used to disinfect medical equipment
  • Peracetic acid - used to disinfect medical equipment

Also implicated:

  • Ergotamine - a medication for migrane
  • Potassium permanganate - mild antiseptic, disinfectant
  • Formalin - used as a disinfect
  • Alcohol
  • Radiocontrast agents - used for Xray

Other general chemicals have been implacated such as acids/bases and household disinfectants.

The symptoms of Chemical Colitis are the same as Ulcerative Colitis although severe cases have lead to peritonitis, Ischemic Colitis and colonic strictures.

Treatment can include discontinuation of exposure to the chemical agent (where it's through the use of enemas) and a short course of antibiotics as well as a course of anti-inflammatories such as mesalazine (mesalamine, 5-ASA).