The mucosa of the pelvic ileal reservoir undergoes adaptive changes--inflammatory, architectural, and metaplastic--on exposure to the faecal stream. Twenty three quadruple loop ileal pouches constructed for ulcerative colitis (20 patients) and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) (three patients) were studied. No patient fulfilled clinical, endoscopic, or histopathological criteria for pouchitis. Standard duplicate biopsy specimens were taken from the proximal limb, the anterior wall, the posterior wall, and the body of the reservoir. An established scoring system was used and showed a highly significant increase in inflammatory scores in posterior wall biopsy specimens compared with those from the anterior wall. These results suggest that the adaptive changes are the direct result of contact with static faecal contents. One patient only showed significant inflammation in the proximal limb. There was no evidence of mucosal prolapse in any anterior wall biopsy specimen. Patients with colitis showed substantially more inflammatory and architectural changes than those with FAP. Ninety six per cent of pouches showed some colonic phenotypic expression as defined by mucin histochemical and PR 3A5 immunohistochemical studies. Our results suggest, however, that there may not be complete colonic metaplasia and that the mucin changes and other phenotypic alterations may represent a non-specific response to pouch inflammation and not a prerequisite for the development of pouchitis. The focal nature of the inflammatory and architectural changes, which may be the result of direct contact with static faecal residue, are clearly shown. A single random biopsy specimen of pouch mucosa is of limited value in assessing pathological changes and screening for potential neoplastic change within the reservoir.
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