Colectomy rate in steroid-refractory colitis initially responsive to cyclosporin: A long-term retrospective cohort study

Giovanni C. Actis, Maurizio Fadda, Ezio David, Anna Sapino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is consistent evidence that 50% of patients with acute, steroid-resistant flare of ulcerative colitis (UC) may achieve remission and avoid colectomy if treated with cyclosporin (CsA). However, follow-up of the responders has shown that most of them relapse and need surgery shortly after the response. We compared the records of our CsA-treated patients with those of other groups in order to help clarify this matter. Methods: All patients admitted consecutively to our Unit with an attack of UC and treated with CsA between January 1991 and December 1999 were studied. Patients were begun on continuously-infused CsA at 2 mg/kg/day (1991-1996), or on NEORAL at an initial dose of 5 mg/kg/day (1996-1999). The maintenance treatment included oral CsA for 3-6 months with or without azathioprine (AZA). CsA failure was defined as a relapse requiring steroids with or without progression to colectomy; the cumulative probability of relapse/colectomy was assessed by Fisher's exact tests and Kaplan-Meier analysis. Results: Among the patients, 39/61 (63%) initially responded. These 39 included a fatality and 4 drop-outs (unrelated to the side-effects of CsA), leaving 34 patients for the study. Of these, 61% and 35% were colectomy-free at 1 and 7 years, respectively; the corresponding figures were 80 and 60% respectively in the subset treated with AZA, but 47% and 15% in the AZA-untreated subgroup (p = 0.0007 at 7 years). Among the 34 patients, 44% were relapse-free at 1 year, but all had relapsed at 7 years (p = 0.0635). The overall resort to colectomy was 72%, while 19% of the patients remained colectomy-free. Conclusion: Sixty percent of a cohort of patients with steroid-refractory colitis responded to CsA and 60% of these responders retained the colon after 1 year. These figures fell to 35% at 7 years but improved to 60% on AZA. The overall need for colectomy remains high in these patients and toxicity must be monitored.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalBMC Gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 27 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Colectomy rate in steroid-refractory colitis initially responsive to cyclosporin: A long-term retrospective cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this