Obliterative muscularization of the small bowel submucosa in Crohn disease: A possible mechanism of small bowel obstruction

G. K. Koukoulis, Y. Ke, J. D. Henley, O. W. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Context. The pathology ot small bowel obstruction in Crohn disease has not been studied extensively. Stricture formation has been attributed mainly to fibrosis, although muscularization of the submucosa has been discussed previously. Objective. To identify additional pathologic changes in Crohn disease that could be involved in the formation of strictures. Design. We reviewed 50 ileal resections from patients with Crohn disease. The histopathologic slides were reviewed initially without knowledge of the macroscopic or clinical findings. We identified an unusual muscular proliferation that we refer to as obliterative muscularization of the submucosa, defined as a thick and continuous muscle layer from the mucosal base to the muscularis propria that is at least 1 cm in length. Subsequently, histopathologic findings were correlated with macroscopic and clinical findings. Results. Obliterative muscularization of the submucosa was present in 14 specimens, and in 11 of these 14 it was topographically restricted to strictures. Submucosal fibrosis was observed in sections from adjacent regions. Obliterative muscularization of the submucosa, including thick-walled vessels and hyperplastic nerves but not prominent scarring, was more common in specimens with strictures; the difference was statistically significant (P < .001). Conclusions. Obliterative muscularization of the submucosa may be pathogenetically involved in the formation of strictures either directly by causing a sustained spasm, or indirectly by minimizing the vasoprotective role of the submucosa, impairing repair and enhancing scarring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1334
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 29 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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