Estimating the optimum number of colon biopsies for diagnosing microscopic colitis: a systematic review

Adnan Malik, Mahum Nadeem, Sadia Javaid, Muhammad Imran Malik, Ikponmwosa Enofe, Ayokunle T Abegunde
European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2022 February 14
Microscopic colitis (MC) is an inflammatory disease of the colon characterized by persistent watery, nonbloody diarrhea. Subtypes of MC include collagenous and lymphocytic MC. Microscopic examination of colon tissue is crucial to confirming the diagnosis because the colonic mucosa often appears normal during flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. We aim to determine the optimal sites and minimum number of colon biopsies required to diagnose MC from published studies. We systematically searched PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and Cochrane databases from inception until October 2020 using the following keywords: microscopic, lymphocytic, collagenous, colitis, biopsy, and biopsies. We screened the search results for eligibility and extracted data from the included studies. We pooled the numbers of biopsies provided by each study to calculate the mean number of biopsies, SD, and SEM. We included three retrospective cohort studies with 356 patients (148 collagenous, 192 lymphocytic, and 16 mixed), and the total number of biopsies were 1854. The mean number of biopsies that were recommended by the included studies are 4, 4, and 9, respectively. The pooled mean ± SD is 5.67 ± 2.89. The included studies reported that biopsies from the ascending colon (AC) and descending colon (DC) had the highest diagnostic rates. To ensure a high level of certainty in diagnosing MC, a total of six biopsies should be taken from the AC and DC (3 AC and 3 DC). However, special care should be directed toward differentiating MC from other forms of colitis. In addition, detailed and comparative studies are needed to provide stronger recommendations to diagnose MC.

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