Infectious proctitis: what every gastroenterologist needs to know

Authors Rosa Coelho, Tiago Ribeiro, Nélia Abreu, Raquel Gonçalves, Guilherme Macedo.


The incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STI) is rising, especially in high-risk groups, namely people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), men who have sex with men, and people with multiple sexual partners. Additionally, the growing availability and use of pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection appears to be associated with an increased risk of infection by venereal agents. The correct recognition of these infections is crucial, not only for individual patients, but also in terms of public health. Furthermore, a diligent diagnostic assessment is key for an efficient therapeutic approach. Infectious proctitis (IP) predominantly occurs in individuals with a history of receptive anal exposure, being a frequent cause for referral to a gastroenterology specialist. The most frequently identified agents are Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, Herpes simplex virus, and Treponema pallidum. This paper aims to provide a practice-oriented and up-todate review regarding the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to patients with suspected IP. The authors reviewed the most important issues in terms of clinical history, physical examination, and specific diagnostic and therapeutic methods. It is also highlighted the most important topics regarding vaccination, screening for other STIs and differential diagnosis with inflammatory bowel disease. Identification of high-risk groups, screening of potential STIs, and notification of diagnosed anorectal diseases are extremely important and essential to prevent transmission and other complications.

Keywords Infectious proctitis, sexually transmitted infections, pre-exposure prophylaxis, inflammatory bowel disease

Ann Gastroenterol 2023; 36 (3): 275-286

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