Case Report Open Access
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World J Gastroenterol. Apr 28, 2006; 12(16): 2622-2624
Published online Apr 28, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i16.2622
Intestinal Behcet’s disease with esophageal ulcers and colonic longitudinal ulcers
Soichiro Fujiwara, Ichiro Shimizu, Momoko Ishikawa, Kohzo Uehara, Hirofumi Yamamoto, Michiyo Okazaki, Takahiro Horie, Arata Iuchi, Susumu Ito
Soichiro Fujiwara, Momoko Ishikawa, Kohzo Uehara, Hirofumi Yamamoto, Michiyo Okazaki, Takahiro Horie, Arata Iuchi, Department of Internal Medicine, Miyoshi Prefectural Hospital, Tokushima, Japan
Ichiro Shimizu, Susumu Ito, Department of Digestive and Cardiovascular Medicine, Tokushima University Graduate School of Medicine, Tokushima, Japan
Author contributions: All authors contributed equally to the work.
Correspondence to: Ichiro Shimizu, MD, Department of Digestive and Cardiovascular Medicine, Tokushima University Graduate School of Medicine, Kuramoto-cho, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.
Telephone: +81-88-6337124 Fax: +81-88-6339235
Received: September 13, 2005
Revised: January 8, 2006
Accepted: January 14, 2006
Published online: April 28, 2006


Intestinal Behcet’s disease in a 38-year-old woman was diagnosed because of the history of recurrent oral aphthous ulcers, erythema nodosum-like eruptions, genital ulcer, and endoscopic findings of esophageal and ileocolonic punched-out ulcers with colonic longitudinal ulcers. Esophageal lesions and colonic longitudinal ulcers are rarely seen in intestinal Behcet’s disease. The ulcers of esophagus and ileocolon healed with 3 wk of treatment with prednisolone and mesalazine without any adverse effect. Mesalazine may decrease the total dose of prednisolone required to treat the disease.

Key Words: Colonic longitudinal ulcer, Esophageal ulcer, Intestinal Behcet’s disease, Mmesalazine


In Japan, Behcet’s disease, when accompanied by intestinal involvement, is called intestinal Behcet’s disease, which primarily affects the terminal ileum, caecum, or ascending colon[1]. However, esophageal aphthous ulcerations and colonic longitudinal ulcers are rare in intestinal Behcet’s disease. Intestinal lesions in Crohn’s disease tend to be longitudinal ulcers with a cobblestone appearance, while those in Behcet’s disease are round and oval “punched-out” ulcers. Moreover, epithelioid granuloma is one of the pathological characteristics of Crohn’s disease, whereas it is uncommon in intestinal Behcet’s disease. Another feature of Behcet’s colitis is lymphocyte venulitis, which is a disorder of vasculitis. Despite these differences, it can be difficult on occasions to make a differential diagnosis between these two diseases. We present a case of intestinal Behcet’s disease with esophageal and colonic longitudinal ulcers.


The patient was a 38-year-old woman who was admitted to our department in December 2003 for epigastralgia and melena that occurred after transient fever. For the previous two days, she was in good health, except for numerous recurrences of aphthous stomatitis. Physical examinations on admission revealed the presence of multiple oral aphthous ulcers, in addition to slight tenderness in the epigastrium. Ophthalmologic and neurologic examinations showed no remarkable findings despite the presence of erythema nodosum-like eruptions in the bilateral inferior limbs and genital ulcers. Negative results were obtained by a prick test of the skin. Clinical laboratory tests showed the following: white blood cells, 7 830/μL; red blood cells, 360 × 104/μL; hemoglobin, 9.6 g/dL; hematocrit, 29.7%; platelets, 61 × 104/μL; C-reactive protein, 10.9 mg/dL; total protein, 8.6 g/dL; AST, 36 IU/L; ALT, 64 IU/L; LDH, 171 IU/L; and total bilirubin, 0.2 mg/dL. Human lymphocyte antigens were negative for B51, but positive for B52. All bacteriologic examinations of blood, urine, and cultured stool showed negative results. Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy demonstrated small oval and discrete ulcers with reddish margin scattered between the middle and lower parts of the esophagus (Figure 1A). Colonoscopy revealed multiple aphthas and erosions scattered in the terminal ileum (Figure 1B) as well as small aphthas on the ileocecal valve (data not shown). However, punched-out ulcers were not observed on ileocecal lesions. Multiple erosions and ulcers including longitudinal irregular-outlined ulcers were extant in the ascending and transverse colon (Figure 1C). Pathological examination of the endoscopic biopsy specimen showed nonspecific ulceration and no evidence of Crohn’s disease could be found.

Figure 1
Figure 1 Endoscopic view of discrete ulcers with reddish margin in the middle part of the esophagus (A), multiple aphthas and erosions scattered in the terminal ileum (B), and multiple erosions and ulcers including longitudinal irregular-outlined ulcers extant in the transverse colon (C).

In this patient, ulcers were detected in the esophagus, terminal ileum, and ascending and transverse colon, in addition to erythema nodosum-like eruptions in the bilateral inferior limbs and genital ulcers. Based on these findings and the history of recurrent oral aphthous ulcers, the patient was diagnosed as having incomplete type intestinal Behcet’s disease.[1] The treatment for this patient was initiated by oral administration of prednisolone (50 g) and mesalazine (1 500 mg daily). Consequently, her symptoms disappeared rapidly, and the results of all clinical laboratory tests were normalized. Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and colonoscopy performed 3 wk after admission revealed the disappearance of ulcers. Mesalazine was maintained at the same dose, but the dose of prednisolone was gradually decreased to 2.5 mg daily, which was maintained thereafter. However, remission was not obtained until 8 mo.


Behcet’s disease is characterized by repeated eye, skin and visible mucosal lesions. The prevalence of this disease differs widely among races; the rate is 0.3/100 000 in the United States, but 1/10 000 in Japan[2]. Abdominal complaints also differ among races. Shimizu et al reported abdominal pain in 75% of patients with Behcet’s disease[3], as noted in the present patient showing epigastralgia.

In Japan, diagnostic criteria for Behcet’s disease have been established by the Behcet’s Disease Research Committee[1]. Based on these criteria, a diagnosis was made in the present case of incomplete type intestinal Behcet’s disease manifests mainly in the terminal ileum, cecum, and ascending colon, although esophageal lesions are rare and colonic longitudinal ulcers are very rare rather than esophageal lesions. To the best of our knowledge, there are only three existing reports describing intestinal Behcet’s disease with longitudinal ulcers (Table 1)[4-6]. Although Lee presumed the cause of the longitudinal ulcers to be multi-focal vasculitis, in our case vasculitis was not significant. However, we cannot conclude that the patient had Crohn’s disease, because microscopic characteristics of Crohn’s disease - that is, chronic inflammation involving all layers of intestinal wall or granulomas - were absent.

Table 1 Reported cases of Behcet’s disease with colonic longitudinal ulcers.
TypeColonic longitudinal ulcer
Other ulcersTreatmentOutcome
29Female++++CompleteTransverse DescendingVasculitisOperation SteroidHealing
270Female+++IncompleteAscending Transverse DescendingNonspecific colitisIleumColchicine SalazopyrinDied
337Female+++IncompleteAscending TransverseGranulomaIleumSteroid 5-AminosalicylateHealing
4139Female+++IncompleteAscending TransverseNonspecific colitisIleumHealing MesalazineHealing

In addition, only nine cases including our case of intestinal Behcet’s disease with both esophageal and ileocolonic ulcers were reported in English literature[7-13]. One case was of the complete type; 6, the incomplete type; and 2, the suspected type. Three patients had strictures; and 2 had perforation. The treatment of intestinal Behcet’s disease is controversial. Surgical treatment was not effective in 1 of the 9 patients (Table 2). However, the esophageal ulcers healed in 6 of 7 patients with medical treatment, including corticosteroids or acid suppressive drugs. Corticosteroids, the major therapeutic agent in this disease, were effective in 3 of the 4 patients. However, they can have serious adverse effects, and their use may be associated with colonic perforation.

Table 2 Reported cases of Behcet’s disease with esophageal and ileocolonic ulcers.
TypeEsophageal ulcer
Other ulcersTreatmentOutcome
152Female+++Incomplete1PerforationStomach, Duodenum Jejunum, Ileum??
221Female++Suspected3ColonAntacid Transfer factorHealing
412Female++++Complete1StenosisIleumSteroid OperatonNo healing
550Male+++Incomplete1StenosisIleum, Colon??
719Female+SuspectedA fewIleumHealing MesalazineHealing
9139Female+++Incomplete8Ileum, ColonHealing MesalazineHealing

Sonta et al have suggested that mesalazine is effective for treatment of intestinal Behcet’s disease[13]. It may decrease the total dose of a corticosteroid required to treat the disease. The esophageal and ileocolonic ulcers in the present case healed 3 wk of treatment with prednisolone and mesalazine without any adverse effect. However, it was reported that the recurrence rate even with medical treatment was 90% in patients with Behcet’s disease[14]. The present case has not relapsed for 8 mo with treatment of 2.5 mg prednisolone and 1 500 mg mesalazine. Thus, the post-treatment course of this patient should be followed up carefully.


S- Editor Wang J L- Editor Zhang JZ E- Editor Bi L

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