Avoiding common errors in maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis

S. B. Hanauer*, D. H. Present

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a medically incurable chronic disease in which the mucosal lining of the colon becomes inflamed. The goal of medical therapy is to quickly induce remission and maintain for as long as possible, without creating side effects or adversely affecting quality of life. Since therapy is often lifelong, the chance for treatment errors is greatly increased. Amino-salicylates are usually the best choice for long-term maintenance of mild-to-moderate disease. Corticosteroids can quell acute flares in moderate-to-severe disease but are contraindicated as maintenance therapy. Immunomodulators are safe and effective as maintenance therapy in more severe cases of steroid resistance and steroid dependence. All of these drugs are safe during pregnancy. Antibiotics are rarely helpful, but resumption of cigarette smoking may sometimes be recommended in lieu of surgery. The only cure for UC is colectomy, which can significantly increase the quality of life for patients with chronically active symptoms despite optimal medical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalPractical Gastroenterology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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