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Towards a new paradigm of microscopic colitis: Incomplete and variant forms.

Microscopic colitis (MC) is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that has emerged in the last three decades as a leading cause of chronic watery diarrhoea. MC classically includes two main subtypes: lymphocytic colitis (LC) and collagenous colitis (CC). Other types of histopathological changes in the colonic mucosa have been described in patients with chronic diarrhoea, without fulfilling the conventional histopathological criteria for MC diagnosis. Whereas those unclassified alterations remained orphan for a long time, the use of the term incomplete MC (MCi) is nowadays universally accepted. However, it is still unresolved whether CC, LC and MCi should be considered as one clinical entity or if they represent three related conditions. In contrast to classical MC, the real epidemiological impact of MCi remains unknown, because only few epidemiological studies and case reports have been described. MCi presents clinical characteristics indistinguishable from complete MC with a good response to budesonide and cholestiramine. Although a number of medical treatments have been assayed in MC patients, currently, there is no causal treatment approach for MC and MCi, and only empirical strategies have been performed. Further studies are needed in order to identify their etiopathogenic mechanisms, and to better classify and treat MC.

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