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Colon melanosis is a mild pigmentation disorder in the intestinal wall. The name may turn out to be confusing - not melanin, but lipofuscin is responsible for the brown color of the large intestine mucosa. Check how to recognize colon melanosis and is it dangerous?


  1. Colon melanosis - lipofuscin
  2. Colon melanosis - etiology
  3. Colon melanosis - diagnosis
  4. Colon melanosis - symptoms
  5. Colon melanosis - treatment
  6. Colon melanosis - how to prevent it?

Colon melanosisis most often diagnosed in people with constipation. Melanosis is rare in the course of inflammatory bowel diseases.

The macroscopic image is characterized by spots up to 10 mm. Dark lesions occur with greater intensity in the right half of the large intestine due to the greater effect of laxatives on this part.

Colon melanosis - lipofuscin

Lipofuscin is a group of pigments deposited inside lysosomes, the end product of organelle degradation in cells. Lipofuscin is called the "wear dye".

Colon melanosis - etiology

Patients taking laxatives containing anthraquinones are at risk of developing colorectal malanosis. Senna, buckthorn bark or rhubarb preparations promote apoptosis of epithelial cells and are the main cause of melanosis.

Laxatives containing anthraquinone glycosides are believed to induce apoptosis of colon epithelial cells.

Therefore, phagocytosis is intensified. As a consequence of these processes, the undigested remains of cellular structures accumulate in the lysosomes.

This is followed by the migration of macrophages filled with remnants, which gives an image of dark changes in the intestine.

Colon melanosis - diagnosis

An accurate diagnosis is possible thanks to an endoscope examination - colonoscopy or rectoscopy. However, in order to establish the diagnosis, an additional histopathological examination should be performed.

Melanosis also occurs in the small intestine, but this is rare, mainly affecting the terminal ileum.

Should be returnedspecial attention to the fact that lipofuscin does not accumulate in tumors and polyps, which makes it easier to find pink polyps against a dark background.

However, membrane-covered submucosal tumors, such as lipomas, contain lipofuscin and change color.

Colon melanosis - symptoms

Colon melanosis has no gastrointestinal symptoms, no pain.

The patient may not be aware that he or she has melanosis until he undergoes endoscopy.

Colon melanosis - treatment

Treatment of melanosis is not necessary. This is a slow, reversible process that disappears when anthraquinone-based laxatives are discontinued.

Melanosis has not been shown to have serious he alth consequences, and the association with an increased incidence of cancer has not been confirmed.

Colon melanosis - how to prevent it?

Melanosis prevention is related to preventing constipation and, consequently, laxatives.


  • eating dried fruit
  • consumption of about 2 liters of water a day
  • limiting the consumption of highly processed foods
  • eating lots of vegetables

The change of lifestyle also includes physical activity. The type and length of exercises should be adapted to the individual predispositions of the patient.

About the authorNatalia MłyńskaStudent of medicine at the Medical University of Lodz. Medicine is her greatest passion. He also loves sports, mainly running and dancing. She would like to treat her future patients in such a way as to see them as a human being, not only a disease.

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