Ambulatory care management of 69 patients with acute severe ulcerative colitis in comparison to 695 inpatients: insights from a multicentre UK cohort study

BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2022 Jan;9(1):e000763. doi: 10.1136/bmjgast-2021-000763.


Introduction: Acute severe ulcerative colitis (ASUC) traditionally requires inpatient hospital management for intravenous therapies and/or colectomy. Ambulatory ASUC care has not yet been evaluated in large cohorts.

Aims: We used data from PROTECT, a UK multicentre observational COVID-19 inflammatory bowel disease study, to report the extent, safety and effectiveness of ASUC ambulatory pathways.

Methods: Adults (≥18 years old) meeting Truelove and Witts criteria between 1 January 2019-1 June 2019 and 1 March 2020-30 June 2020 were recruited to PROTECT. We used demographic, disease phenotype, treatment outcomes and 3-month follow-up data. Primary outcome was rate of colectomy during the index ASUC episode. Secondary outcomes included corticosteroid response, time to and rate of rescue or primary induction therapy, response to rescue or primary induction therapy, time to colectomy, mortality, duration of inpatient treatment and hospital readmission and colectomy within 3 months of index flare. We compared outcomes in three cohorts: (1) patients treated entirely in inpatient setting; ambulatory patients subdivided into; (2) patients managed as ambulatory from diagnosis and (3) patients hospitalised and subsequently discharged to ambulatory care for continued intravenous steroids.

Results: 37% (22/60) participating hospitals used ambulatory pathways. Of 764 eligible patients, 695 (91%) patients received entirely inpatient care, 15 (2%) patients were managed as ambulatory from diagnosis and 54 (7%) patients were discharged to ambulatory pathways. Aside from younger age in patients treated as ambulatory from diagnosis, no significant differences in disease or patient phenotype were observed. The rate of colectomy (15.0% (104/695) vs 13.3% (2/15) vs 13.0% (7/54), respectively, p=0.96) and secondary outcomes were similar among all three cohorts. Stool culture and flexible sigmoidoscopy were less frequently performed in ambulatory cohorts. Forty per cent of patients treated as ambulatory from diagnosis required subsequent hospital admission.

Conclusions: In a post hoc analysis of one of the largest ASUC cohorts collected to date, we report an emerging UK ambulatory practice which challenges treatment paradigms. However, our analysis remains underpowered to detect key outcome measures and further studies exploring clinical and cost-effectiveness as well as patient and physician acceptability are needed.

Trial registration number: NCT04411784.

Keywords: IBD clinical; health service research; inflammatory bowel disease; surgery for IBD; ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care
  • COVID-19*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / diagnosis
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / epidemiology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology

Associated data