Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the
large bowel (colon) primarily and its lesions involve only the surface
of the bowel wall (superficial mucosal inflammation).
Clinical suspicion and diagnosis
The most important symptom is bloody diarrhoea and proctoscopy and
biopsy is the single most useful tool in diagnosis and follow up.
Barium enema is useful in evaluating the extent & should never be performed
during an acute attack.
During active disease
Mild to moderate disease aminosalicylates are the drug of choice
1. Sulfasalazine 0.5-1 gm PO qid
Then maintain on 1 gm bid
sulfasalazine reaches the colon intact where it is metabolised into sulfapyridine
moeity (responsible for toxicity) and 5-ASA (active component)
2. 5-aminosalicylates 0.5-1 gm PO qid
then maintain on 500mg qid
these preparations lack the sulfa moiety and are classified according
to where they are active.
Moderate to severe disease (>5 motions per day) usually requires treatment
Indications of glucorticoids in UC:
moderate to severe cases - maybe used in conjunction with aminosalicylates
Hydrocortisone enemas in ulcerative proctitis until symptoms subside then
put on aminosalicylates.
1. Prednisone PO 10-40 mg qd
Then maintain on 1 gm bid
2. If symptoms persist then hospitalisation and treat with IV hydrocortisone
(100 mg q 6hrs) or methylprednisolone (20-40 mg q 12hrs).
? 6MP, azathioprine are used only in the maintenance phase to reduce the
amount of glucorticoids in patients with moderate to severe disease and
with a contraindication to surgery.
? Cyclosporine is effective in acute exacerbations in patients unresponsive
to standard intensive medical treatment. Nephrotoxic.
Antidiarrheal agents and anticholinergics
Symptomatic therapy for colics.
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Normal diet when in remission and low fiber diet when during an exacerbation.
Treatment of complications:
1. toxic megacolon and fulminant disease:
Toxic megacolon occurs in 1-2% of patients: it is diagnosed when radiographically
midtransverse colon appears > 6cm in diameter + toxic symptoms
* nasogastric suction - nothing by mouth and TPN
* correct water - electrolyte disturbances
* Antibiotics IV
* IV glucocorticoids
* total colectomy for acutely ill not responding within 48 hrs.
* avoid anticholinergics and opioids as they precipitate and aggrevate
2. Colonic cancer may require therapy with surgery if feasible and chemotherapy
Barium enema and colonoscopy are not done during acute attacks of ulcerative
colitis for fear of precipitating an acute toxic dilatation of the colon.