Comprehensive Evaluation and Unique Morphologic Features of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) Enteropathy in the Terminal Ileum

Jessica Nguyen, Sherry Lee, Guang Yu Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Differentiating NSAID enteropathy from Crohn disease can be challenging on terminal ileum biopsy. It is important to distinguish these two entities for management. In this study, clinical, radiographic, endoscopic, and histologic features of 30 patients diagnosed with NSAID enteropathy and 30 patients diagnosed with Crohn disease on terminal ileal biopsy were compared. None of the patients in the NSAID cohort demonstrated significant changes on imaging performed prior to biopsy. Depending on disease severity, patients with Crohn disease showed imaging findings ranging from minimal changes to significant bowel wall and/or luminal changes. Endoscopically, erythema, erosions, and/or ulcers in the terminal ileum were observed in a majority of NSAID cases. Patients with active Crohn disease were noted to have erythema, ulcers, strictures, and/or visible inflammation throughout the distal ileum and colon. Histologically, at least 80% of cases in each cohort showed ulceration/erosion and cryptitis/crypt abscesses. The Crohn disease cohort had significantly higher degree of lymphoplasmacytic inflammation in the lamina propria compared to the NSAID cohort. In contrast, a significantly higher percentage of the NSAID cohort had gland/crypt atrophy. A decrease in number of Paneth cells was found in the NSAID cohort. Decreased lamina propria lymphoplasmacytic inflammation was the most specific and the presence of gland atrophy the most sensitive feature favoring NSAID enteropathy. In summary, the combination of gland/crypt/Paneth cell atrophy with decreased lamina propria lymphoplasmacytic inflammation can aid in differentiating NSAID enteropathy from Crohn disease in terminal ileal biopsies; however, correlation with clinical, radiographic, and endoscopic findings is still required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-622
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number6
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Crohn disease
  • NSAID enteropathy
  • terminal ileum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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