Currently, the only cure for colitis is surgery. However, treatments are available that can relieve symptoms and suppress the inflammatory process. Therapy varies depending on the seriousness of the disease. Most people will require long-term medication. In severe cases or if cancer is found, surgery may be required to remove the diseased colon.
Drug therapy aims to improve the quality of life for people with colitis by inducing and maintaining remission, or symptom-free periods. There are three types of drugs most commonly prescribed to treat colitis. These include aminosalicylates, corticosteroids and immunomodulatory medicines.
An estimated 25 percent to 40 percent of patients will require surgery. This may be because medications are ineffective, they become dependent on corticosteroids, they have dysplasia (early cancer) or cancer, or they develop complications of the disease, such as bleeding, rupture of the colon, or dilation of the colon. In these cases, surgery to remove the colon and rectum, called proctocolectomy, may be recommended. Unlike Crohn's disease, which can recur after surgery, colitis is cured once the colon has been removed. However, associated diseases associated with colitis may still develop or progress after surgery. For example, primary sclerosing cholangitis, a liver condition, and Ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammation of the lower back, will still progress after surgery. Surgery is followed by one of the following:
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.