Crypt distortion

by Jason Wasserman MD PhD FRCPC
May 1, 2022


crypt distortion

What does crypt distortion mean?

The inside of the colon is lined by cells that connect to form long straight glands called crypts. Pathologists use the term crypt distortion to describe changes in the size, shape, and number of the crypts in the colon.

Common types of crypt distortion include:

  • Crypt atrophyAtrophy is a loss of tissue compared to normal. In the colon, atrophy means that the crypts that are seen are smaller than normal, healthy crypts.
  • Crypt loss – There is a complete loss of crypts in some areas of the colon.
  • Crypt branching – Instead of being long and straight, these crypts split to form multiple branches.

Crypt distortion is considered a sign of long-term damage caused by inflammation in the colon. Pathologists look for this change when making the diagnosis of chronic colitis. Crypt distortion can be seen in both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

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