What is Ulcerative Colitis – What are the Symptoms – How is Ulcerative Colitis Treated?
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammation of the lining of the large bowel. Among the possible symptoms are diarrhea, rectal bleeding, cramps, weight loss or fever. In cases of extensive ulcerative colitis over a long period of time (years), there is an increased risk of developing cancer in the large bowel.
How is Ulcerative Colitis treated?
In the early stages drug treatment is utilized with either antibiotics or anti-inflammatory steroidal drugs such as Prednisone. With this disease drugs are typically prescribed for the long term. However, Prednisone has significant side effects and is usually used for short periods of time. At some point it may be necessary to hospitalize a patient. Surgery is called for if symptoms become life threatening, such as massive bleeding, perforation or significant infection. This is used only if other medical treatment fails to bring relief or if signs of cancer appear.
What are the surgical options?
A proctocolectomy removes the entire large intestine, rectum and anus, which are replaced by bringing the remaining bowel through the intestine wall. A collection device is placed on the outside of the body. Internal collection is also possible, which requires drainage three or four times a day. This method eliminates cancer risk and risk of recurrent persistent colitis, but internal leakage is a possibility, which would require an additional operation.
The latest alternative is an ileoanal procedure, which leaves the anus in place and connects the remaining small intestine to the anus. It is refashioned into a small pouch to perform the large bowel function.
The various options should be explored with your surgeon to determine the best possible outcome for your particular case.