Medscape is available in 5 Language Editions – Choose your Edition here.


Acute Proctitis

  • Author: Lisandro Irizarry, MD, MPH, FACEP; Chief Editor: Robert E O'Connor, MD, MPH  more...
Updated: Apr 04, 2014


Proctitis is inflammation of the lining of the rectum, called the rectal mucosa. Proctitis can be short term (acute) or long term (chronic). Proctitis involves an inflammatory change of the rectum (within 15 cm of the dentate line). Proctitis is similar to proctosigmoiditis but is not necessarily associated with proximal extension of disease into the colon and usually does not evolve into ulcerative colitis. If proximal extension does occur, it usually does so within the first 2 years of initial diagnosis.

Proctitis has many causes. It may be a side effect of medical treatments like radiation therapy or antibiotics. Proctitis caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is transmitted through receptive anal intercourse and is most commonly due to gonorrhea and chlamydia, or less commonly lymphogranuloma venereum or herpes virus. Nonsexually transmitted causes include autoimmune disease of the colon, such as Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, chemicals, rectal instrumentation, and trauma to the anorectal area. It may also occur as idiopathic proctitis.

For more information on Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, see Medscape's Inflammatory Bowel Disease Resource Center.



Proctitis involves mucosal cell loss, acute inflammation of the lamina propria, eosinophilic crypt abscess, and endothelial edema of the arterioles. These may improve or in turn progress with subsequent fibrosis of connective tissue and endarteritis of the arterioles, resulting in rectal tissue ischemia and leading to mucosal friability, bleeding, ulcers, strictures, and fistula formation.




United States

Frequencies of proctitis are associated with their individual etiologies.

Radiation therapy accounts for 5-20% of patients with acute proctitis, usually within 6 months of treatment with a total dose of greater than 50 Gy. Chronic radiation proctitis has a more delayed onset from 9-14 months after initial radiation exposure but can occur any time up to 30 years post irradiation.[1]


Incidence is higher in Jewish persons.


Males are affected more often than females.


Proctitis occurs predominantly in adults.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Lisandro Irizarry, MD, MPH, FACEP Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

Lisandro Irizarry, MD, MPH, FACEP is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Medical Toxicology, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Ibis Yarde, MD Staff Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brooklyn Hospital Center

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Chief Editor

Robert E O'Connor, MD, MPH Professor and Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Virginia Health System

Robert E O'Connor, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Association for Physician Leadership, American Heart Association, Medical Society of Delaware, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, Wilderness Medical Society, American Medical Association, National Association of EMS Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Michael S Beeson, MD, MBA, FACEP Professor of Emergency Medicine, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine and Pharmacy; Attending Faculty, Akron General Medical Center

Michael S Beeson, MD, MBA, FACEP is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians, National Association of EMS Physicians, Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Eugene Hardin, MD, FAAEM, FACEP Former Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science; Former Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Martin Luther King Jr/Drew Medical Center

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

  1. Nostrant TT. Diagnosis and treatment of chronic radiation proctitis. October 7, 2009. Accessed. March 14, 2010. UpToDate [online].

  2. Hille A, Schmidt-Giese E, Hermann RM, Herrmann MK, Rave-Frank M, Schirmer M, et al. A prospective study of faecal calprotectin and lactoferrin in the monitoring of acute radiation proctitis in prostate cancer treatment. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2008 Jan. 43(1):52-8. [Medline].

  3. Karamanolis G, Triantafyllou K, Tsiamoulos Z, Polymeros D, Kalli T, Misailidis N, et al. Argon plasma coagulation has a long-lasting therapeutic effect in patients with chronic radiation proctitis. Endoscopy. 2009 Jun. 41(6):529-31. [Medline].

  4. Haas EM, Bailey HR, Farragher I. Application of 10 percent formalin for the treatment of radiation-induced hemorrhagic proctitis. Dis Colon Rectum. 2007 Feb. 50(2):213-7. [Medline].

  5. de Parades V, Etienney I, Bauer P, Bourguignon J, Meary N, Mory B, et al. Formalin application in the treatment of chronic radiation-induced hemorrhagic proctitis--an effective but not risk-free procedure: a prospective study of 33 patients. Dis Colon Rectum. 2005 Aug. 48(8):1535-41. [Medline].

  6. Babb RR. Radiation proctitis: a review. Am J Gastroenterol. 1996 Jul. 91(7):1309-11. [Medline].

  7. Bassford T. Treatment of common anorectal disorders. Am Fam Physician. 1992 Apr. 45(4):1787-94. [Medline].

  8. Bitton A. Medical Management of Ulcerative Proctitis, Proctosigmoiditis, and left-sided colitis. Semin Gastrointest Dis. 2001. 12(4):263-274. [Medline].

  9. Denton AS, Andreyev HJ, Forbes A, Maher EJ. Systematic review for non-surgical interventions for the management of late radiation proctitis. Br J Cancer. 2002 Jul 15. 87(2):134-43. [Medline].

  10. [Guideline] Kornbluth A, Sachar DB. Ulcerative colitis practice guidelines in adults (update): American College of Gastroenterology, Practice Parameters Committee. Am J Gastroenterol. 2004 Jul. 99(7):1371-85. [Medline].

  11. Liauw SL, Sylvester JE, Morris CG, Blasko JC, Grimm PD. Second malignancies after prostate brachytherapy: incidence of bladder and colorectal cancers in patients with 15 years of potential follow-up. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006 Nov 1. 66(3):669-73. [Medline].

  12. MacDermott RP. Management of ulcerative proctitis, proctosigmoiditis and left sided colitis. Available at Accessed: March 31, 2009.

  13. Rafal RB, Nichols JN, Cennerazzo WJ, et al. MRI for evaluation of perianal inflammation. Abdom Imaging. 1995 May-Jun. 20(3):248-52. [Medline].

  14. Regueiro MD. Diagnosis and treatment of ulcerative proctitis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2004 Oct. 38(9):733-40. [Medline].

  15. Spencer CM, McTavish D. Budesonide. A review of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic efficacy in inflammatory bowel disease. Drugs. 1995 Nov. 50(5):854-72. [Medline].

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2016 by WebMD LLC. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.