JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Ulcerative colitis: pathogenesis, diagnosis, and current treatment

L H Griffel, K M Das
Journal of the Association for Academic Minority Physicians 1996, 7 (3): 63-9
8803417
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the colon that affects the rectum and a variable length of contiguous colon. The disease is characterized by rectal bleeding and diarrhea during periods of exacerbation; these symptoms usually abate with treatment. The pathogenic mechanism of ulcerative colitis is believed to be an aberrant immune response in which antibodies are formed against colonic epithelial protein(s). The disease usually presents during the second and third decades of life, with a smaller peak after the age of 60 years. There is a genetic component to ulcerative colitis, with a higher incidence among family members and, particularly, first-degree relatives. Diagnosis depends on several factors, most notably symptoms, demonstration of uniformly inflamed mucosa beginning in the rectum, and exclusion of other causes of colitis, such as infection. There is no medical cure for ulcerative colitis, but medical therapy is effective and can improve or eliminate symptoms in more than 80% of patients. Surgery offers a cure but carries the high price of total colectomy. New surgical methods, such as ileoanal anastomosis, allow for maintenance of bowel continuity and better patient satisfaction.

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