Rectosigmoid and pancolitis

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What is rectosigmoid or pancolitis?

Rectosigmoid is a type of ulcerative colitis; it is called rectosigmoid colitis as the inflammation is in the rectum and up to 40cm of the left side of the bowel. This means that the rest of the colon is unaffected and can function normally. Pancolitis is inflammation of the rectum, left side, transverse and right side of the bowel. This means that the whole of the large bowel is affected.

Small ulcers develop on the surface of the lining and these ulcers may bleed and produce mucus. A relapse of your inflammatory bowel disease is called a flare. You should be aware of your disease extent.

Is rectosigmoid or pancolitis a lifelong condition?

Once people develop the condition it is lifelong. However, there will be times when no symptoms are experienced. During these periods the rectosigmoid or pancolitis is said to be in remission. The periods when you experience symptoms are called a flare-up, active disease or relapse. Some patients with rectosigmoid or pancolitis may only have one attack. However, most people will have further relapses over the years. It is unpredictable to know when these relapses may take place.

What are the symptoms of rectosigmoid and pancolitis?

You may have experienced some of all of these previously. You are the best person to recognise any deterioration. The main symptoms you may experience during a flare-up include:

  • increased stool frequency
  • passing blood or blood stained mucous
  • increased abdominal pain
  • increased urgency

This is because the inflammation of the lining causes the production of extra mucous, which may be passed out in stools. Some people develop tiny shallow ulcers that bleed easily and blood is passed when going to the toilet.

You may experience diarrhoea, or you may have normal stools or even constipation. People with rectosigmoid and pancolitis are likely to experience diarrhoea and urgency to pass a bowel motion. You may feel you have an urge to pass a stool but cannot pass anything because the bowel is empty (tenesmus). You may also see blood and or mucus in your stools. This may also be accompanied by mild or more severe abdominal discomfort.

Am I at increased risk of developing colon cancer?

People with rectosigmoid or pancolitis do have a mildly increased risk of developing cancer. Therefore, routine colonoscopy surveillance is required. The frequency of when you are next due will be discussed before you start PIFU. As the disease behaviour is mostly unpredictable, as you are aware you may require a colonoscopy sooner if your condition deteriorates.

Do I need to change my diet?

There has been extensive research into diet being a cause or trigger of rectosigmoid or pancolitis, there are no clear answers. If you are symptomatic then to attempt to improve your symptoms a low fibre diet may be beneficial. If you are not symptomatic and in remission, there is no reason why you cannot have a normal diet.

Contact details

If you would like to speak to someone in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Nursing Team, please use the contact details below:

phone: 01908 996 955

email: [email protected]