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Proctitis, Proctocolitis, and Enteritis

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Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010

Sexually transmitted gastrointestinal syndromes include proctitis, proctocolitis, and enteritis. Evaluation for these syndromes should include appropriate diagnostic procedures (e.g., anoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, stool examination, and culture).

Proctitis is inflammation of the rectum (i.e., the distal 10–12 cm) that can be associated with anorectal pain, tenesmus, or rectal discharge. N. gonorrhoeae, C. trachomatis (including LGV serovars), T. pallidum, and HSV are the most common sexually transmitted pathogens involved. In patients coinfected with HIV, herpes proctitis can be especially severe. Proctitis occurs predominantly among persons who participate in receptive anal intercourse.

Proctocolitis is associated with symptoms of proctitis, diarrhea or abdominal cramps, and inflammation of the colonic mucosa extending to 12 cm above the anus. Fecal leukocytes might be detected on stool examination, depending on the pathogen. Pathogenic organisms include Campylobacter sp., Shigella sp., Entamoeba histolytica, and LGV serovars of C. trachomatis. CMV or other opportunistic agents can be involved in immunosuppressed HIV-infected patients.

Proctocolitis can be acquired by the oral route or by oral-anal contact, depending on the pathogen.

Enteritis usually results in diarrhea and abdominal cramping without signs of proctitis or proctocolitis; it occurs among persons whose sexual practices include oral-anal contact. In otherwise healthy persons, Giardia lamblia is most frequently implicated. When outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness occur among social or sexual networks of MSM, clinicians should consider sexual transmission as a mode of spread and provide counseling accordingly. Among HIV-infected patients, gastrointestinal illness can be caused by other infections that usually are not sexually transmitted, including CMV, Mycobacterium avium–intracellulare, Salmonella sp., Campylobacter sp., Shigella sp., Cryptosporidium, Microsporidium, and Isospora. Multiple stool examinations might be necessary to detect Giardia, and special stool preparations are required to diagnose cryptosporidiosis and microsporidiosis. In addition, enteritis can be directly caused by HIV infection.

When laboratory diagnostic capabilities are available, treatment decisions should be based on the specific diagnosis. Diagnostic and treatment recommendations for all enteric infections are beyond the scope of these guidelines.

Treatment for Proctitis

Acute proctitis of recent onset among persons who have recently practiced receptive anal intercourse is usually sexually acquired (469,470). Such patients should be examined by anoscopy and should be evaluated for infection with HSV, N. gonorrhoeae, C. trachomatis, and T. pallidum. If an anorectal exudate is detected on examination or if polymorphonuclear leukocytes are detected on a Gram-stained smear of anorectal secretions, the following therapy should be prescribed while awaiting additional laboratory tests.

Recommended Regimen

Ceftriaxone 250 mg IM


Doxycycline 100 mg orally twice a day for 7 days

Patients with suspected or documented herpes proctitis should be managed in the same manner as those with genital herpes (see Genital HSV Infections). If painful perianal ulcers are present or mucosal ulcers are detected on anoscopy, presumptive therapy should include a regimen for genital herpes and LGV. Appropriate diagnostic testing for LGV should be conducted in accordance with state or federal guidelines, and doxycycline therapy should be administered 100 mg orally twice daily for 3 weeks.

For MSM, treatment for LGV proctitis/proctocolitis with 3 weeks of doxycycline in those with anorectal chlamydia and either 1) proctitis (as detected by proctoscopic examination and the presence of >10 white-blood cells upon high-power field examination of an anorectal smear specimen) or 2) HIV infection can be considered.


Follow-up should be based on specific etiology and severity of clinical symptoms. Reinfection might be difficult to distinguish from treatment failure.

Management of Sex Partners

Partners of persons with sexually transmitted enteric infections should be evaluated for any diseases diagnosed in the index patient.