Acute Severe Ulcerative Colitis: Optimal Strategies for Drug Therapy

Gut Liver. 2023 Jan 15;17(1):49-57. doi: 10.5009/gnl220017. Epub 2022 Nov 14.


Acute severe ulcerative colitis (ASUC) is a life-threatening medical emergency with considerable morbidity (30% to 40%). Patients with ASUC require hospitalization for prompt medical treatment, and colectomy is considered if medical therapy fails. Corticosteroids remain the primary initial therapy, although one-third of patients do not respond to treatment. Clinical data have indicated that cyclosporine, tacrolimus, and infliximab can be used to treat patients with ASUC who do not respond to intravenous corticosteroids. The effectiveness and safety of sequential therapy have recently been reported; however, the data are not convincing. Importantly, timely decision-making with rescue therapy or surgical treatment is critical to manage ASUC without compromising the health or safety of the patients. In addition, risk stratification and the use of predictive clinical parameters have improved the clinical outcome.of ASUC. Multidisciplinary teams that include inflammatory bowel disease experts, colorectal surgeons, and other medical staff contribute to the better management of patients with ASUC. In this review, we introduce current evidence and present a clinical approach to manage ASUC.

Keywords: Acute severe ulcerative colitis; Cyclosporine; Infliximab; Surgery; Tacrolimus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Colectomy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / surgery
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infliximab / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Infliximab
  • Cyclosporine
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones