Small bowel lymphangiectasia and angiodysplasia: a positive association; novel clinical marker or shared pathophysiology?

Jonathan MacDonald, Victoria Porter, Neil W Scott, Deirdre McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Small bowel angiodysplasia accounts for 30 to 40% of cases of obscure gastrointestinal bleeding and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Identifying lesions can be difficult. Small bowel capsule endoscopy (SBCE) is a significant advance on earlier diagnostic techniques. The cause of angiodysplasia is unknown and the natural history poorly understood. Many lesions are thought to arise from a degenerative process associated with ageing, local vascular anomalies, and tissue hypoxia. Nonpathologic lymphangiectasias are commonly seen throughout the small bowel and are considered a normal finding.

Aims: To determine whether there is an association between lymphangiectasias, angiodysplasia, and atherosclerosis related conditions.

Methods: Relevant information was collected from a dedicated SBCE database. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine associations between angiodysplasia, lymphangiectasia, patient demographics, and comorbidity.

Results: In all, 180 patients underwent SBCE during the study period, 46 (25%) had angiodysplasia and 47 (26%) lymphangiectasia. Lymphangiectasia were seen in 24 (52%) of 46 with angiodysplasia, in 16 (19%) of 84 with obscure gastrointestinal bleeding without angiodysplasia and in 7 (14%) of 50 without gastrointestinal bleeding. Logistic regression analysis confirmed a strong positive association between angiodysplasia and lymphangiectasia; odds ratio 4.42, P<0.003. Angiodysplasias were also associated with increasing age; odds ratio 1.1. There was no correlation with any other patient characteristic.

Conclusions: Lymphangiectasia are strongly associated with the presence of small intestinal angiodysplasia and may represent a useful clinical marker for this condition. Angiodysplasia are also associated with increasing age. Conditions associated with systemic atherosclerosis did not increase the risk of angiodysplasia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-614
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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