Published online Aug 15, 2004. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v10.i16.2311
Revised: April 12, 2004
Accepted: April 29, 2004
Published online: August 15, 2004
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory destructive disease of the large intestine occurred usually in the rectum and lower part of the colon as well as the entire colon. Drug therapy is not the only choice for UC treatment and medical management should be as a comprehensive whole. Azulfidine, Asacol, Pentasa, Dipentum, and Rowasa all contain 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA), which is the topical anti-inflammatory ingredient. Pentasa is more commonly used in treating Crohn’s ileitis because Pentasa capsules release more 5-ASA into the small intestine than Asacol tablets. Pentasa can also be used for treating mild to moderate UC. Rowasa enemas are safe and effective in treating ulcerative proctitis and proctosigmoiditis. The sulfa-free 5-ASA agents (Asacol, Pentasa, Dipentum and Rowasa) have fewer side effects than sulfa-containing Azulfidine. In UC patients with moderate to severe disease and in patients who failed to respond to 5-ASA compounds, systemic (oral) corticosteroids should be used. Systemic corticosteroids (prednisone, prednisolone, cortisone, etc.) are potent and fast-acting drugs for treating UC, Crohn’s ileitis and ileocolitis. Systemic corticosteroids are not effective in maintaining remission in patients with UC. Serious side effects can result from prolonged corticosteroid treatment. To minimize side effects, corticosteroids should be gradually reduced as soon as the disease remission is achieved. In patients with corticosteroid-dependent or unresponsive to corticosteroid treatment, surgery or immunomodulator is considered. Immunomodulators used for treating severe UC include azathioprine/6-MP, methotrexate, and cyclosporine. Integrated traditional Chinese and Western medicine is safe and effective in maintaining remission in patients with UC.