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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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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 digestive...

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    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    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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