CT Evaluation of the Colon
Karen M. Horton, MD ; Frank M. Corl, MS ; Elliot K. Fishman, MD
1 From the Department of Radiology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, 601 N Caroline St, Baltimore, MD 21287. Presented as a scientific exhibit at the 1998 RSNA scientific assembly. Received February 26, 1999; revision requested March 29 and received May 14; accepted May 17.
Computed tomography (CT) is valuable for detection and characterization of many inflammatory conditions of the colon. At CT, a dilated, thickened appendix is suggestive of appendicitis. A 1–4-cm, oval, fatty pericolic lesion with surrounding mesenteric inflammation is diagnostic of epiploic appendagitis. The key to distinguishing diverticulitis from other inflammatory conditions of the colon is the presence of diverticula in the involved segment. In typhlitis, CT demonstrates cecal distention and circumferential thickening of the cecal wall, which may have low attenuation secondary to edema. In radiation colitis, the clinical history is the key to suggesting the diagnosis because the CT findings can be nonspecific. The location of the involved segment and the extent and appearance of wall thickening may help distinguish Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis. In ischemic colitis, CT typically demonstrates circumferential, symmetric wall thickening with fold enlargement. CT findings of graft-versus-host disease include small bowel and colonic wall thickening, which may result in luminal narrowing and separation of bowel loops. In infectious colitis, the site and thickness of colon affected may suggest a specific organism. The amount of wall thickening in pseudomembranous colitis is typically greater than in any other inflammatory disease of the colon except Crohn disease.