Background: Mucosal inflammation of the ileal pouch (pouchitis) is the major long-term complication after ileal pouch-anal anastomosis for ulcerative colitis. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment, however, 15% of patients with pouchitis have a chronic, treatment-resistant disease.
Aim: To determine the safety and efficacy of bismuth carbomer enemas in achieving and maintaining remission in treatment-resistant chronic pouchitis.
Methods: Twelve patients with treatment-resistant chronic pouchitis were treated nightly for 45 days with enemas containing elemental bismuth complexed with carbomer. Diagnosis of pouchitis and response to treatment were evaluated with the Pouchitis Disease Activity Index (PDAI), which includes clinical, sigmoidoscopic and histological criteria. Serum bismuth concentrations were determined by atomic absorption.
Results: Ten of 12 patients (83%) went into remission, with a significant decrease of mean total PDAI score from 12 (range 9-15) to 6 (4-15) (P < 0.002), and were continued on bismuth carbomer enemas administered every third night for 12 months. Patients were monitored clinically, sigmoidoscopically and histologically every 2 months for evidence of recurrence (increase > or = 2 in the clinical symptom portion of the PDAI). Six of 10 patients (60%) were able to maintain remission throughout the 12-month trial; 4/10 had an exacerbation, two of which occurred soon after discontinuing daily treatment. Serum bismuth levels were negligible in all patients and no side-effects were registered.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that bismuth carbomer enemas are safe and effective in achieving and maintaining remission in patients with treatment-resistant chronic pouchitis.