Pathology dictionary

Cryptitis

cryptitis

What does cryptitis mean?

Cryptitis is a word pathologists use to describe inflammation involving the tissue inside the colon. The inflammation is caused by specialized immune cells called neutrophils. 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.

Cryptitis means that neutrophils were seen attacking the epithelial cells in the crypt. This damages the cells and prevents the gland for working normally. A crypt abscess is a related change that means the neutrophils have filled the open space normally found in the center of the crypt.

What causes cryptitis?

Several different conditions can cause cryptitis. For that reason it is a descriptive term and not a diagnosis. Conditions that can cause cryptitis 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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