The microvasculature was investigated in the normal bowel and in ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Tissue samples from postoperative colectomy specimens in which the microvasculature had been perfused with barium sulphate suspension were examined. Microradiography was used to study intramural vascular pattern which was abnormal in both disease states. A recently described radiograph fluorescence system was used to estimate barium concentration and hence microvascular volume in tissue samples. Highly significant negative correlations were demonstrated between barium concentration and age in normal bowel (n = 44; r = -0.669; p less than 0.001) and in segmental Crohn's disease (n = 11; r = -0.698; p = 0.017). Barium concentration was significantly reduced (p less than 0.05) in segmental Crohn's disease (n = 11) but remained normal in diffuse Crohn's disease of the colon (n = 6) and ulcerative colitis (n = 7). It is postulated that ischaemia may be a factor in the pathogenesis of segmental Crohn's disease in older patients.
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