What is ulcerative colitis?
disease (IBD) is a group of disorders that cause inflammation or ulceration of
the digestive tract . The most common forms are ulcerative
affects the colon and the rectum. It can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea or
constipation, and bleeding. In some cases, symptoms may develop in other areas
of the body, such as the joints, the eyes, and the skin.
How is ulcerative colitis treated?
In many mild
cases, medicines can reduce the inflammation and manage the symptoms. But
medicines sometimes do not work. Surgery to remove the colon (total colectomy)
is the only cure.
What are the long-term risks of having ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis can drastically lower your quality
of life, particularly if the disease is severe. Frequent diarrhea and abdominal
pain may force you to limit work or social activities. Some people feel
isolated or depressed.
Ulcerative colitis is not life-threatening
for most people. But it does increase your risk of colon cancer over time. Most
doctors recommend screening for colon cancer if you have had ulcerative colitis
for 8 years.
The risk of developing colon cancer is higher in
people who have ulcerative colitis throughout the colon (pancolitis) than in
those who have the condition in one area. The risk of colon cancer is
especially high in people who developed ulcerative colitis as children because
the risk increases the longer you have ulcerative colitis.
What surgeries are done to cure ulcerative colitis?
Two surgeries are commonly done. One allows you to have nearly normal
bowel movements after surgery. The other requires that after surgery you wear
an ostomy bag to collect stools.
- Ileoanal anastomosis. The surgeon
removes the colon and the lining of the rectum. The lower end of the small
intestine (ileum) is made into a pouch that connects to the anus. The anal
sphincter muscles are left intact, allowing for nearly normal bowel movements.
This surgery has become standard because it cures ulcerative colitis and allows
nearly normal bowel movements.1
- Proctocolectomy and ileostomy. The large intestine,
the rectum, and sometimes the anus are removed (proctocolectomy). The surgeon
sews the anus closed and makes a small opening (stoma) in the skin of the lower
abdomen. The ileum attaches to the opening in the abdomen. Stool empties into
an ostomy bag that attaches to the stoma.
Ileoanal anastomosis is the surgery that is most often
done. This surgery is successful in 95% of people who have it.1 Most young people with ulcerative colitis have ileoanal
surgery. Proctocolectomy is done for people with ulcerative colitis who cannot
be under anesthesia for long periods of time because of illness or age.