This study aimed to examine the incidence and cumulative risk of pouchitis after restorative proctocolectomy for ulcerative colitis and to evaluate the clinical and functional results in patients with pouchitis.
Methods: A total of 291 patients had proctocolectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis for ulcerative colitis between January 1985 and January 1996. During follow-up, 65 patients had one or more episodes of pouchitis based on clinical, histologic, and endoscopic criteria. Functional results and patient satisfaction in these patients were compared with those of 65 matched control patients who had experienced no episodes of pouchitis.
Results: Pouchitis developed in 65 patients (22 percent), giving rise to a cumulative frequency of 28 percent at 11 years after the operation. Only 13 patients (4.5 percent) had chronic pouchitis that required long-lasting treatment. A permanent ileostomy had to be constructed in one patient (0.3 percent) because of pouchitis. During the last year (1995), 60 percent of patients with pouchitis had medication, most often metronidazole and/or corticosteroids. Defecation frequency per 24 hours was 6.7 for all patients with pouchitis, 8.2 for those with chronic pouchitis (P < 0.05), and 6.3 for patients without pouchitis. Nighttime defecation occurred in 44 (80 percent) patients with pouchitis, compared with 37 (67 percent) of those without pouchitis (P > 0.05). Frequencies of soiling or flatus incontinence did not differ between the two groups. During the last year, 43 (80 percent) of the pouchitis patients, who answered the questionnaire, were working all the year or were on sick-leave less than one month.
Conclusions: Episodic pouchitis is easily treated and causes minimum functional consequences, whereas chronic pouchitis increases defecation frequency and needs prolonged medication. Pouchitis seems not to be a major threat to preventing the use of restorative proctocolectomy in ulcerative colitis, but still the small group of chronic pouchitis patients remains a problem.