Meta-analysis: The utility and safety of heparin in the treatment of active ulcerative colitis

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Sep 1;26(5):653-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2007.03418.x.


Background: The use of heparin for the treatment of ulcerative colitis has been evaluated in several open and controlled trials, with varying outcomes.

Aim: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of heparin as supplemental therapy compared with conventional therapy in patients with ulcerative colitis.

Methods: All randomized trials comparing heparin supplementation to conventional therapy were included from electronic databases. Statistical analysis was performed with review manager 4.2.8 (The Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford, UK). Sub-analysis and sensitivity analysis were also performed.

Results: Eight randomized-controlled trials, investigating a total of 454 participants, met the inclusion criteria. The odds ratio (OR) for the efficacy of heparin supplementation vs. conventional therapy was 0.78 (95% CI = 0.50-1.21). Few serious adverse events were observed. The OR for the efficacy of unfractionated heparin and low-molecular-weight heparin vs. conventional therapy was 0.26 (95% CI = 0.07-0.93) and 0.92 (95% CI = 0.57-1.47), respectively. The OR for the efficacy of heparin vs. conventional therapy with placebo was 0.87 (95% CI = 0.53-1.44).

Conclusions: Our meta-analysis suggests that administration of heparin in patients with ulcerative colitis is safe, but no additive benefit over conventional therapy is indicated.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Heparin / administration & dosage
  • Heparin / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin