Intestinal Spirochetosis: Case Series and Review of the Literature

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Annals of clinical and laboratory science






© 2020 by the Association of Clinical Scientists, Inc. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to present the clinical, endoscopic, and histopathologic characteristics associated with intestinal spirochetosis (IS). It also serves to heighten awareness among pathologists, since the histologic appearance of spirochetosis could be subtle and easily overlooked. METHODS: Hematoxylin & eosin (H&E) slides and special stains of intestinal biopsies from six patients with a diagnosis of IS at our institution were reviewed. Clinical history, endoscopic, and histopathologic findings were obtained from electronic medical records. RESULTS: The patients presented with diverse clinical symptoms, and only one patient was asymptomatic. The most consistent symptoms were watery diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Two out of five treated patients reported symptomatic improvement after antibiotics therapy. The colonoscopy findings were not specific, ranging from normal mucosa to polyps, to mucosal ulcerations in one patient. On histologic examination, the typical "brush-like" organisms lying perpendicular to the surface epithelium are seen both on H&E stain and special stains. CONCLUSIONS: IS is usually an incidental histologic finding, and the association with symptoms is still unclear. The clinical presentation could be very diverse, hence, a long list of differential diagnosis should be ruled out. Additional clinical testing should be pursued if patients are unresponsive to antibiotic treatment.

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