This study was aimed to investigate the significance of unexpected vasculitis identified in gastrointestinal (GI) specimens by determining its prevalence and correlation with clinical outcomes.
GI specimens with histologic evidence of vasculitis were identified in our pathology database over a 10-year period (January 2008 to August 2018). Clinical history, treatment, and follow-up were reviewed.
Of the 131,367 GI pathology cases received over the 10-year study period, 29 (0.02%) cases showed histologic evidence of GI vasculitis. The majority (69%, 20/29) were not clinically suspected. Of these, 20% (4/20) of patients were subsequently diagnosed with systemic vasculitis. During the mean follow-up period of 34.0 months, 24% (4/17) of the patients with this unexpected diagnosis died as the result of direct complications of GI vasculitis. We also found that 95% of cases with unexpected vasculitis in their GI pathology specimens were communicated in a timely manner to the ordering physicians, which necessitated the immediate initiation of additional workups in 85% of these patients.
The GI involvement of vasculitis is rarely encountered by pathologists, but its diagnosis carries tremendous clinical significance with a high mortality rate. Therefore, timely communication is highly recommended for the early diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
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