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Severe ulcerative colitis is a potentially life-threatening condition but the mortality has fallen dramatically over the past 30-40 years. It is now less than 2%, including surgical mortality, and should only be seen in patients with significant co-existing disease. Early recognition of the severity of the colitis, intensive medical therapy, close liaison between physician and surgeon, and prompt surgery when necessary have all contributed to this improved outcome. Despite the use of high-dose intravenous corticosteroids, 20-30% of patients will make a poor response and will require urgent surgery. The use of intravenous cyclosporin has proved effective at reducing the immediate surgical rate in this group of unresponsive patients and appears safe. Whether cyclosporin reduces the need for surgery in the longer term is much less certain. Clinical, radiological, endoscopic and laboratory parameters can now be used to predict the course of a severe attack. These help in the timing of urgent surgery and are potentially helpful in determining when to begin other therapies such as cyclosporin.


Journal article


Aliment Pharmacol Ther

Publication Date





419 - 424


Aminosalicylic Acids, Colitis, Ulcerative, Colonoscopy, Humans, Injections, Intravenous, Treatment Outcome