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Ulcerative Colitis: When Surgery Is Needed - Topic Overview

Surgery is likely to be needed for ulcerative colitis when:

  • Medicines and nutritional therapy have failed to manage severe symptoms.
  • Toxic megacolon does not respond to medical treatment within 4 days (or sooner in some cases).
  • Holes develop in the large intestine (perforation).
  • You have colon cancer, a significantly increased risk of cancer (detected by biopsies), or a narrowing in the intestine that cannot be distinguished from cancer, even if you do not have symptoms of active disease.
  • Severe, disabling complications occur outside the colon. But many complications do not respond to surgery.
  • Severe bleeding requires ongoing blood transfusions.
  • Slow growth or other serious complications occur in children.

People may choose to have surgery to improve their quality of life, cure ulcerative colitis, or prevent the possibility of colon cancer.

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Ulcerative Colitis: Symptoms and Treatment

Whenever Serena Ehrlich goes someplace new, she scouts out the location of the bathroom. That's because Ehrlich, 38, a Los Angeles-based salesperson for a commercial wire service, has ulcerative colitis. She developed the disease 12 years ago and has been in remission for the past three. Still, the old habit lingers. "Everyone who has ulcerative colitis will tell you that when you walk into a bookstore, a shop, or a restaurant, that's the one thing you want to know first. It's our rule of thumb." This...

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    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 08, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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