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Management of distal ulcerative colitis: frequently asked questions analysis

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The majority of patients with ulcerative colitis have disease involving only the distal colon. Although 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA, mesalazine) and corticosteroids remain the important drugs used in the management of distal colitis and proctitis, recent expansion of delivery options of 5-ASA and high level evidence regarding efficacy have led to a shift in treatment strategies. The availability of 5-ASA in enema, foam and suppository formulations has enabled optimization of delivery of 5-ASA to the affected mucosa. Such therapy has superior efficacy and fewer adverse effects compared with those of topical corticosteroids. Furthermore, rectal delivery is effective in the maintenance of remission. Consequently, new guidelines for the management of distal colitis have focussed more on rectal delivery and on optimizing 5-ASA dosage than previously. However, corticosteroids remain an important remission-inducing agent, and immune-modulating drugs play a clear role in prevention of relapse and in managing chronically active disease. The changes in guidelines have raised several management questions, many of which are addressed in this review.

Keywords: colorectal cancer surveillance; corticosteroids; immunemodulator drugs; inflammatory bowel disease; iron deficiency; mesalazine

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Gastroenterology and Monash University Department of Medicine, Box Hill Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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