Background and Aims: To do a histomorphometric study of vascular changes in colonic mucosa of patients with portal hypertension (PHT) and to find their association with clinical and upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopic observations.
Methods: Full length colonoscopy was carried out in 55 patients with portal hypertension and 25 controls. Hemorrhoids, anorectal varices and colopathy were carefully looked for and recorded. Two biopsies each were taken from the caecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon and rectum. Sections from all the five sites were examined for histopathological changes with special reference to changes in mucosal capillaries. Morphometric assessment of the diameter of the capillary and thickness of the capillary wall was performed. These histomorphometric changes were correlated with clinical parameters and findings of upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopic findings.
Results: Dilated and congested capillaries as well as capillaries with irregular thickening of the wall were seen in a significantly higher number of sections from patients than controls in biopsies from all the five sites from caecum to rectum. On morphometry, the diameter of the capillaries and the thickness of the capillary wall in biopsies from all the five sites in patients was significantly higher than that in the control group. Apart from vascular changes, edema and inflammatory infiltrate in lamina propria were the other significant histological features noted. No significant association between clinical and endoscopic features and histomorphometric assessment was found.
Conclusion: Dilated tortuous mucosal capillaries with irregular thickening of wall, edema of lamina propria and mild chronic inflammatory infiltrate are the major histopathological changes seen in colonic biopsies of patients with PHT, showing that PHT produces changes in the colonic mucosa similar to those seen in the mucosa of upper GI tract. However, the histological changes had no correlation with the clinical or endoscopic findings except that the thickness of the capillary wall was higher in patients who had undergone endoscopic sclerotherapy as opposed to those who had not received sclerotherapy.