JOURNAL ARTICLE

Refractory ulcerative colitis treatment

Richard P Macdermott, Jesse A Green
Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2007, 3 (1): 64-9
21960779
Treatment of refractory ulcerative colitis (UC) is a common clinical challenge. In either acute or chronic refractory UC, the disease may continue to remain active, even though the patient is on appropriate therapy. It is important to reassess and characterize the patient's disease before adding new medications to the current medical regimen. After determining the current extent and severity of the UC-ruling out other causes of bloody diarrhea and determining what complications are present-new treatment approaches can then be started. It is critical to first optimize oral 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) therapy combined with rectal 5-ASA or corticosteroid suppositories, plus corticosteroid or 5-ASA enemas or foam preparations. Oral or intravenous corticosteroids are appropriate to use if needed, but alternative approaches must be used for long-term maintenance. 6-Mercaptopurine (6-MP) or azathioprine can be very helpful for severe chronic refractory UC. In those patients who do not respond to 5-ASA medications, corticosteroids, and 6-MP or azathioprine, infliximab offers an important approach for induction and maintenance of remission for refractory chronic ulcerative colitis as well as for select cases of refractory acute UC. Cyclosporine use is an alternative medical approach for the refractory acute UC patient. Colectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis remains a valuable option for the refractory chronic or acute UC patient, because it can provide both a "cure" for the disease, as well as eliminate ineffective medications with their associated side effects.

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