Colonic Wall Thickening on Computed Tomography Scan and Clinical Correlation. Does It Suggest the Presence of an Underlying Neoplasia?

Moraitis D, Singh P, Jayadevan R, Cayten CG.
Department of Surgery, Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center, New York Medical College, New York, USA.
The widespread use of computed tomography (CT) scanning technology frequently leads to the incidental discovery of thickened bowel wall. The clinical significance of such a CT scan finding is largely under-investigated. The purpose of our study was to determine the incidence of significant clinical pathology and, particularly, neoplasia in patients with abnormally thickened bowel on CT scan examination. This is a single institution retrospective analysis of patients that underwent CT scanning of their abdomen. The radiological picture was correlated with colonoscopic findings. A total of 40 consecutive patients with thickened bowel on CT scan that also underwent colonoscopy were identified and their records were reviewed. Thirty-five patients had no history of previous gastrointestinal disorder and form our study group. The median age of the patients was 69 years (range, 24-97 years). There were 26 female and 9 male patients. The incidental CT finding of bowel wall thickening was the only reason for the colonoscopy in 14 (35%) out of the 40 patients. Eight (23%) patients with thick bowel had colonic neoplasia based on pathology. Five (14%) patients had invasive adenocarcinoma of the colon. Four (11%) of the 5 patients with colon adenocarcinoma did not have any associated gastrointestinal symptoms or signs. One (3%) patient had lymphoma of the colon and two (6%) had benign polyps. Colonoscopy was unremarkable in 10 (28%) patients. The incidental finding of colonic thickening on CT imaging could be associated with underlying colonic malignancy and, more importantly, represent the initial disease presentation. Therefore, we propose that these patients should undergo colonoscopy.
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