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Ulcerative Colitis Health Center

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Ulcerative Colitis: When Surgery Is Needed - Topic Overview

Surgery is likely to be needed for ulcerative colitis for the following reasons.

  • 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 form in the large intestine. (This is called perforation.)
  • You have colon cancer or a significantly increased risk of cancer. (This risk is found by biopsies.) Or you have a narrowing in the intestine that can't be told apart from cancer. You may need surgery even if you don't have symptoms of active disease.
  • Severe, disabling complications occur outside the colon. But many complications do not respond to surgery.
  • You have severe bleeding that 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 colon cancer.

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Test Your Colitis IQ

Confused by ulcerative colitis (UC)? No surprise there; it can be a bewildering disease, sometimes easily confused with other gastrointestinal troubles. On top of that, symptoms can disappear for months or even years, then return for no apparent reason. New treatments and strategies, though, can help you take control. Test your UC smarts: Are the following statements true or false? 1. Ulcerative colitis is also known as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. All affect the...

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    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    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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