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Peculiar acute toxic colitis after ingestion of colocynth: a clinicopathological study of three cases.
  1. D Goldfain,
  2. A Lavergne,
  3. A Galian,
  4. L Chauveinc,
  5. F Prudhomme
  1. Service de Gastroentérologie, Hôpital Victor Jousselin, Dreux, France.


    We report three examples of toxic acute colitis which occurred after ingestion of colocynth (Citrullus colocynthis) for ritual purposes. The prominent clinical feature was dysenteric diarrhoea; colonoscopic changes included congestion and hyperaemia of the mucosa with abundant exudates but no ulceration or pseudopolyp formation. A causal relationship between colonic injury and the intake of colocynth was supported by the following features: (1) the pharmacology of the colocynth extract ingested; (2) the temporal relationship between colocynth intake and clinical onset (eight to 12 h); (3) the rapid recovery within three to six days, with normal endoscopy at day 14; (4) the absence of other possible causes for the observed patterns, except in one case, in which a concomitant intestinal infection with Clostridium perfringens Type A was discovered; (5) the specific pathological features. Colonic biopsies taken 27, 44, and 72 h after colocynth intake showed: erosions with fibrino-purulent exudate, early fibrosis of the lamina propria, hyaline thickening of the superficial epithelial basal membrane. These pathological features completely disappeared within 14 days in all three cases.

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