Objectives: Corticosteroids are a cornerstone in the treatment of a severe attack of ulcerative colitis (UC). The long-term prognosis in this patient group is not well described. We studied the long-term colectomy and relapse rates in patients given intensive intravenous corticosteroid treatment (IIVT) for acute UC.
Methods: A retrospective clinical study of 158 patients with UC treated in 1975-1982 with IIVT. Patients were followed-up to death, colectomy or last visit.
Results: A total of 11 patients were excluded due to change of diagnosis (N = 10) or lost to follow-up (N = 1). The indication for index IIVT in the remaining 147 patients was a severe attack (N = 61), a moderately severe attack (N = 45), a mild attack (N = 29) or chronic continuous disease (N = 12). The median (range) duration of follow-up was 173 (4-271) months in patients escaping colectomy during the first 3 months. Three months after IIVT, the colectomy rates were 28/61 (46%) in a severe attack, 4/45 (9%) in a moderately severe, and 1/29 (3%) in a mild attack. After 10 yr, the colectomy rates were 39/61 (64%), 22/45 (49%), and 8/29 (28%), respectively. During follow-up, neither colectomy incidence beyond 3 months, time to first relapse nor relapse incidence was influenced by severity of initial attack, except for a lower relapse incidence after a severe attack.
Conclusions: In patients escaping colectomy during the first 3 months after IIVT, the future prognosis was similar irrespective of initial disease severity.