What Causes Thickening of the Colon?

Thickening of the colon, which is caused by the inflammation, widening or hardening of the tissue of the bowel wall, can result from many illnesses, conditions, diseases and disorders. These include Crohn’s disease, cancer, colitis and systemic sclerosis, according to TummyTrouble.

The various possible causes of thickening of the colon are characterized by the symmetry, pattern and extent of the thickening. Focal thickening of the bowel wall, which is limited to sections of the colon less than 5 centimeters in length, may be caused by colon cancer tumors or inflammatory conditions distinguished from each other by analysis of the symmetry of the colon wall and the presence of anomalies surrounding the intestine, explains Fernandes et al. in a 2014 article in Insights into Imaging. Colon cancer may appear as either symmetric or asymmetric thickening. Segmental, which is limited to segments of 6 centimeters to 40 centimeters, or diffuse, in sections in excess of 40 centimeters, thickening of the colon wall is usually caused by benign conditions such as ischemic, infectious and inflammatory diseases, with the exception of lymphoma.

While bowel wall thickening can cause symptoms such as pain during bowel movements, bloody stools, constipation and abdominal pain, most individuals are diagnosed with bowel wall thickening when undergoing an abdominal scan or barium X-ray for the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome, notes TummyTrouble.