Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Davis

UC Davis Previously Published Works bannerUC Davis

Cholesterol crystal embolism to the gastrointestinal tract: a catastrophic case.


Cholesterol crystal embolism is a rare and easily overlooked cause of colonic ischemia. The gastrointestinal tract is the third most common organ system affected by cholesterol emboli, second only to kidney and skin. Here we present a catastrophic case of gastrointestinal cholesterol crystal embolism leading to extensive post-operative bowel infarction and ultimately death. For a practicing pathologist, careful attention to the vessels of any ischemic bowel and recognition of the subtle but distinct angular imprint of cholesterol crystals facilitates prompt identification of the atheroemboli. In some cases, early identification may help mitigate further tissue damage. In more acute and severe cases, identification of the cholesterol crystal emboli may be important primarily for documentation of procedural complications.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View