, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 67-69
Date: 13 Sep 2001

Longer term outcome of steroid refractory ulcerative colitis treated with intravenous cyclosporine without subsequent oral cyclosporine maintenance therapy

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Background and aims: Intravenous cyclosporine (Cy) is increasingly used in patients with severe ulcerative colitis who fail to respond to corticosteroids. However, in spite of subsequent oral Cy maintenance therapy almost one-half of the initial responders need colectomy within a year. In light of the drug's limited efficacy and potential toxicity use of oral long-term Cy can be questioned. Patients and methods: Nineteen patients with steroid refractory severe ulcerative colitis were treated intravenously with Cy. Results: Of the 19 patients 14 (76%) achieved remission. Six of the patients (46%) remained in remission for 12–61 months. Eight patients experienced one to four flares during the year after treatment. However, except for one patient who needed another course of intravenous Cy, all responded to corticosteroids. The duration of remission since the last flare in these patients (five received azathioprin) was 10–36 months. None of the patients needed colectomy because of symptoms. Conclusion: These preliminary data suggest that a course of intravenous Cy can turn corticosteroid-refractory ulcerative colitis to corticosteroids responsive. The outcome of patients not receiving oral Cy maintenance therapy appears to be satisfactory. Azathioprin maintenance therapy can probably be reserved for select patients.

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