Published online Sep 27, 2016. doi: 10.4240/wjgs.v8.i9.598
Peer-review started: April 5, 2016
First decision: May 23, 2016
Revised: July 14, 2016
Accepted: July 29, 2016
Article in press: August 1, 2016
Published online: September 27, 2016
Acute severe ulcerative colitis (UC) is a highly morbid condition that requires both medical and surgical management through the collaboration of gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons. First line treatment for patients presenting with acute severe UC consists of intravenous steroids, but those who do not respond require escalation of therapy or emergent colectomy. The mortality of emergent colectomy has declined significantly in recent decades, but due to the morbidity of this procedure, second line agents such as cyclosporine and infliximab have been used as salvage therapy in an attempt to avoid emergent surgery. Unfortunately, protracted medical therapy has led to patients presenting for surgery in a poorer state of health leading to poorer post-operative outcomes. In this era of multiple medical modalities available in the treatment of acute severe UC, physicians must consider the advantages and disadvantages of prolonged medical therapy in an attempt to avoid surgery. Colectomy remains a mainstay in the treatment of severe ulcerative colitis not responsive to corticosteroids and rescue therapy, and timely referral for surgery allows for improved post-operative outcomes with lower risk of sepsis and improved patient survival. Options for reconstructive surgery include three-stage ileal pouch-anal anastomosis or a modified two-stage procedure that can be performed either open or laparoscopically. The numerous avenues of medical and surgical therapy have allowed for great advances in the treatment of patients with UC. In this era of options, it is important to maintain a global view, utilize biologic therapy when indicated, and then maintain an appropriate threshold for surgery. The purpose of this review is to summarize the growing number of medical and surgical options available in the treatment of acute, severe UC.
Core tip: The numerous avenues of medical and surgical therapy have allowed for great advances in the treatment of patients with ulcerative colitis. In this era of options, it is important to maintain a global view, utilize corticosteroids and rescue therapy when indicated, and then maintain an appropriate threshold for surgery. Colectomy remains a viable and often life-saving treatment and should not be viewed as the “therapy of last resort”.