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Massive Submucosal Ganglia in Colonic Inertia.



- Colonic inertia is a debilitating form of primary chronic constipation with unknown etiology and diagnostic criteria, often requiring pancolectomy. We have occasionally observed massively enlarged submucosal ganglia containing at least 20 perikarya, in addition to previously described giant ganglia with greater than 8 perikarya, in cases of colonic inertia. These massively enlarged ganglia have yet to be formally recognized.


- To determine whether such "massive submucosal ganglia," defined as ganglia harboring at least 20 perikarya, characterize colonic inertia.


- We retrospectively reviewed specimens from colectomies of patients with colonic inertia and compared the prevalence of massive submucosal ganglia occurring in this setting to the prevalence of massive submucosal ganglia occurring in a set of control specimens from patients lacking chronic constipation.


- Seven of 8 specimens affected by colonic inertia harbored 1 to 4 massive ganglia, for a total of 11 massive ganglia. One specimen lacked massive ganglia but had limited sampling and nearly massive ganglia. Massive ganglia occupied both superficial and deep submucosal plexus. The patient with 4 massive ganglia also had 1 mitotically active giant ganglion. Only 1 massive ganglion occupied the entire set of 10 specimens from patients lacking chronic constipation.


- We performed the first, albeit distinctly small, study of massive submucosal ganglia and showed that massive ganglia may be linked to colonic inertia. Further, larger studies are necessary to determine whether massive ganglia are pathogenetic or secondary phenomena, and whether massive ganglia or mitotically active ganglia distinguish colonic inertia from other types of chronic constipation.

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