, Volume 68, Issue 9, pp 1157-1167
Date: 12 Sep 2012

Steroid-Refractory Severe Ulcerative Colitis

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Approximately 15% of patients with ulcerative colitis will experience a severe episode requiring hospitalization. Although intravenous corticosteroids are the current first-line therapy for these patients, about 30% of patients do not respond to corticosteroids and require either an alternative anti-inflammatory agent or surgery. Ciclosporin has proven its efficacy in a number of controlled trials in this setting and is characterized by high early response rates. Patients who respond to ciclosporin and avoid colectomy are more likely to retain their colon if they bridge to immunomodulators in the medium term. Infliximab has also demonstrated efficacy in reducing early colectomy rates and longer term data are awaited. Other agents, such as tacrolimus and basiliximab, and leukocytapheresis, have been studied in small trials and may be alternative options. Key issues remain as to what should be first- and second-line therapies, when surgery should be undertaken, and the risk of switching between immunosuppressants in these critical patients.