Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic disease featuring recurrent inflammation of the colonic mucosa. The goal of medical treatment is to rapidly induce a steroid-free remission while at the same time preventing complications of the disease itself and its treatment. The choice of treatment depends on severity, localization and the course of the disease. For proctitis, topical therapy with 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) compounds is used. More extensive or severe disease should be treated with oral and local 5-ASA compounds and corticosteroids to induce remission. Patients who do not respond to this treatment require hospitalization. Intravenous steroids or, when refractory, calcineurin inhibitors (cyclosporine, tacrolimus), tumor necrosis factor-α antibodies (infliximab) or immunomodulators (azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine) are then called for. Indications for emergency surgery include refractory toxic megacolon, perforation, and continuous severe colorectal bleeding. Close collaboration between gastroenterologist and surgeon is mandatory in order not to delay surgical therapy when needed. This article is intended to give a general, practice-orientated overview of the key issues in ulcerative colitis treatment. Recommendations are based on published consensus guidelines derived from national and international guidelines on the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
Keywords: Azathioprine; Diagnosis; Inflammatory bowel disease; Medical management; TNF-α blocker; Ulcerative colitis.