Pathology dictionary

Crypt abscess

crypt abscess

What is a crypt abscess?

A crypt abscess is a collection of specialized immune cells called neutrophils inside the colon. It is an example of acute inflammation and is often seen in a condition called active colitis.

What does this look like under the microscope?

The tissue on the inside of the colon is lined by specialized epithelial cells that connect together to form structures called glands. When examined under the microscope, the normal, healthy glands look like long, straight test tubes. The area at the very bottom of the gland is called the crypt.

A crypt abscess means that a collection of neutrophils were seen filling the inside of the crypt. This damages the epithelial cells and prevents the gland for working normally. Cryptitis is a related change that means the neutrophils were seen in between the epithelial cells.

What causes a crypt abscess?

Several different conditions can cause crypt abscesses. For that reason it is a descriptive term and not a diagnosis. Conditions that can cause crypt abscesses include infection, medications, radiation to the colon, or inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis). Your doctor will use the information in your pathology report along with other information about you and your medical history to determine the cause.

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