Background: The prognosis of patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) has previously been described with regard to mortality, cancer occurrence, and need for colectomy on the basis of an annual follow-up of a regional cohort of UC patients in Copenhagen County diagnosed in 1962-87. The objective of this study was to examine the prognosis with regard to spread of disease and to evaluate possible prognostic factors with regard to spread of disease and colectomy by multivariate regression analysis.
Methods: An inception cohort of 1161 patients with UC was examined by actuarial analysis and by multivariate regression analysis of a subgroup of 467 patients diagnosed in 1979-87.
Results: The probability for further progression of proctosigmoiditis, evaluated by sigmoidoscopy and radiology, was 53% after 25 years. The probability for regression was 76.8% for substantial colitis and 75.7% for pancolitis after 25 years. Multivariate regression analysis showed that the occurrence of the symptoms abdominal pain and diarrhoea was prognostically unfavourable with regard to the progression from proctosigmoiditis. Age influenced the regression probability in extensive disease. With regard to colectomy the following variables influenced the prognosis: fever, general condition, serum albumin, mucopus in stools, and diarrhoea at onset.
Conclusions: Disease extent in UC is not static but changes with time in approximately half of the patients. This finding should have implications for the follow-up. Ulcerative proctitis should be considered the same disease as UC and needs the same long-term follow-up.