The mucin and gland content of 26 rectal biopsy specimens--five normal specimens, 10 from patients with ulcerative colitis, and 11 from patients with Crohn's disease--were measured using a Quantimet image analyser. There was significantly less mucin in the groups with ulcerative colitis compared with either those with Crohn's disease or the normal controls. The difference in the gland content between the groups with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease and between the group with Crohn's disease and the normal controls did not reach significance. The results suggest that it is worth while assessing the mucin content of rectal biopsy specimens from patients with inflammatory bowel disease. In routine practice this assessment can be made by eye using a suitably stained section.
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