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Guidelines for the management of inflammatory
bowel disease in adults
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Guidelines for the management of inflammatory bowel
disease in adultsM J Carter, A J Lobo, S P L Travis, on behalf of the IBD Section of the British Society ofGastroenterology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gut 2004;53(Suppl V):v1–v16. doi: 10.1136/gut.2004.043372
Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD) (collectively
2.1 Impact of IBD on patients and society2–4
termed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)) are complex
Patients find symptoms of UC or CD embarrassing and
disorders reflected by wide variation in clinical practice.
humiliating. IBD can result in loss of education and difficulty
These guidelines, commissioned by the Clinical Services’
in gaining employment or insurance. It can also cause
Committee of the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG)
psychological problems and growth failure or retarded sexual
for clinicians and allied professionals caring for patients with
development in young people. Medical treatments such as
IBD in the United Kingdom, provide an evidence based
corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs cause secondary
document describing good clinical practice for investigation
health problems, and surgery may result in complications
and treatment. The guidelines are intended to bring
such as impotence or intestinal failure.
consistency, but should not necessarily be regarded as the
The impact of IBD on society is disproportionately high, as
standard of care for all patients. Individual cases must be
presentation often occurs at a young age and has the
managed on the basis of all clinical data available for that
potential to cause lifelong ill health. A hospital serving a
case. Patient preferences should be sought and decisions
population of 300 000 would typically see 45–90 new cases
jointly made between patient and health professional.
per annum and have 500 under follow up, but many will befollowed up in the community. There is a small increase in
mortality for both UC (hazard ratio 1.44, 95% CI 1.31 to 1.58)
A comprehensive literature search was performed using
and CD (HR 1.73, CI 1.54 to 1.96), largely dependent on age
electronic databases (Medline, PubMed, and Ovid; keywords:
‘‘inflammatory bowel disease’’, ‘‘ulcerative colitis’’, and‘‘Crohn’s disease’’) by Dr Carter. A preliminary document
was drafted by Dr Carter, Dr Lobo, and contributing authors.
It is important to recognise the high calibre of care that can
This was summarised by Dr Travis and revised after
be delivered in smaller hospitals, because this is greatly
circulation first to the committee and then to members of
valued by individual patients, but this is dependent on high
the IBD section of the BSG, before submission to the Clinical
quality training of clinicians working in this environment.
Larger centres should support district general hospitalsthrough multidisciplinary facilities for managing complex
IBD. The nature of the symptoms and complexity of IBD
The guidelines conform to the North of England evidence
mean that facilities are necessary beyond those normally
based guidelines development project. The grading of each
provided for outpatients or inpatients. Measurable standards
recommendation is dependent on the category of evidence
of care would assist the process of change in submissions to
Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities. As
N Grade A—requires at least one randomised controlled trial
there has been little objective research in this area, criteria for
as part of a body of literature of overall good quality and
standards are proposed, but arbitrary targets avoided:
consistency addressing the specific recommendation
N Rapid access to clinic appointments for patients with
Grade B—requires the availability of clinical studies with-
N Rapid access to advice and clinic appointments for patients
out randomisation on the topic of consideration (evidence
N Adequate time and space in outpatients and wards to meet
Grade C—requires evidence from expert committee reportsor opinions or clinical experience of respected authorities,
the unpredictable pattern of disease, allow discussion,
in the absence of directly applicable clinical studies of good
explanation or counselling, and provide information or
Abbreviations: 5-ASA, 5-aminosalicylic acid; AZA, azathioprine; CD,
Crohn’s disease; CRP, C reactive protein; CsA, cyclosporin; ESR,
The content and evidence base for these guidelines should be
erythrocyte sedimentation rate; FBC, full blood count; IBD, inflammatory
revised within three years of publication, to take account of
bowel disease; IFX, infliximab; MP, mercaptopurine; MTX, methotrexate;
new evidence. We recommend that these guidelines are
NNT, number needed to treat; TPMT, thiopurine methyl transferase; UC,
audited and request feedback from all users.
N Easy access to private, clean toilet facilities for patients
both as outpatients and as inpatients.
Individuals with IBD strongly believe that in addition to the
N Administrative and clinical support for different models of
care (hospital based, shared care systems with primary
N sufficient information to make a rational personal choice
A multidisciplinary team that manages patients with IBD
N close integration of medical and surgical management;
in hospitals that train specialists in the care of IBD.
N straightforward access to support services, including
dieticians, psychological support, and social workers;
N clearly stated management plans on discharge with well
The above standards are appropriate topics to audit current
provision of care. Many other aspects lend themselves toaudit, including the availability of patient information,proportion and monitoring of patients on immunomodulator
therapy, outcome of admission for severe colitis, time lost to
Patients consider that the following should be central
work, cancer surveillance, or mortality.
N continuity of care, both in hospital and in primary care.
Patients dislike seeing different individuals at each visit;
N a system that allows a choice about appropriate long term
3.1 Understanding the patient’s experience
The following views have been expressed by the membership
of the National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
N attention to physical, emotional, and quality of life issues;
Patients recognise that desirable goals cannot always be met
within resource constraints, but consider that demonstrable
help with problems related to insurance, employment, or
efforts should be made to achieve them.
N Someone with IBD should be seen as an individual and
N Individuals differ in the way they choose to live with IBD.
Views of ‘‘right’’ and ‘‘wrong’’ approaches to living with
3.5.1 That patient driven criteria be used as one criterion
for auditing the quality of care at hospitals treating
N Individuals often develop expertise about their own
patients with inflammatory bowel diseases.
condition and needs which should be respected.
N Problems that cannot be solved by the healthcare team are
best acknowledged and recognised as being impossible to
N Patients place a high value on sympathy, compassion, and
Ulcerative colitis is characterised by diffuse mucosal inflam-
mation limited to the colon. Disease extent can be broadly
N There should be equitable access to treatments and
divided into distal and more extensive disease. ‘‘Distal’’
services and early referral of complex cases to specialist
disease refers to colitis confined to the rectum (proctitis) or
centres when local expertise is exceeded.
rectum and sigmoid colon (proctosigmoiditis). More exten-sive disease includes ‘‘left sided colitis’’ (up to the splenicflexure), ‘‘extensive colitis’’ (up to the hepatic flexure), and
pancolitis (affecting the whole colon).
Delay in diagnosis is common and may be accompanied by
Crohn’s disease is characterised by patchy, transmural
dismissal of symptoms as due to stress. Two objectives would
inflammation, which may affect any part of the gastro-
intestinal tract. It may be defined by location (terminal ileal,colonic, ileocolic, upper gastrointestinal), or by pattern of
N rapid access to hospital investigation;
disease (inflammatory, fistulating, or stricturing). These
N referral to a hospital that has a gastroenterologist who
variables have been combined in the Vienna classification.
About 5% of patients with IBD affecting the colon areunclassifiable after considering clinical, radiological, endo-scopic, and pathological criteria, because they have some
features of both conditions. This can be termed indeterminate
Patients want the emotional impact of the diagnosis to be
taken into account, with several opportunities to discuss theimplications and significance. Not all discussions need to be
with the consultant. Objectives for care around the time of
The incidence of UC is approximately 10–20 per 100 000 per
year with a reported prevalence of 100–200 per 100 000. The
incidence remains stable, but the prevalence is likely to be an
the offer of suitable written information and audio-visual
underestimate, because this implies an average disease
duration (prevalence/incidence) of 10 years for a condition
N information about patient support groups and sources of
that is known to last for life. There are marked differences
between ethnic groups with some (such as Ashkenazi Jews)
N an opportunity to meet a non-medical member of staff,
having a particularly high incidence. The incidence of CD
such as a clinical nurse specialist or medical social worker
is around 5–10 per 100 000 per year with a prevalence
of 50–100 per 100 000; the same considerations about
Guidelines for the management of IBD in adults
underestimating prevalence apply. In contrast to UC how-
treatment in the first 10 years of disease and approximately
ever, the incidence of CD may be increasing. Both UC and CD
70–80% will require surgery within their lifetime. The overall
are diseases of young people with a peak incidence between
mortality of CD is slightly higher than the normal population
the ages of 10 and 40 years. They may, however, affect people
and is greatest in the 2 years after diagnosis or in those with
of any age and 15% of people are over the age of 60 at
upper gastrointestinal disease. The clinical course of CD is
diagnosis. Up to 240 000 people are affected by IBD in the
also characterised by exacerbations and remission. CD tends
to cause greater disability than UC with only 75% of patientsfully capable of work in the year after diagnosis and 15% of
patients unable to work after 5–10 years of disease.
The aetiologies of both UC and CD remain unknown. Theconsensus is that both diseases are a response to environ-
mental triggers (infection, drugs, or other agents) in
The diagnosis of IBD is confirmed by clinical evaluation and a
genetically susceptible individuals. The genetic component
combination of biochemical, endoscopic, radiological, histo-
is stronger in CD than in UC. Smoking increases the risk of
logical, or nuclear medicine based investigations. In the case
CD, but decreases the risk of UC through unknown
of UC the diagnosis should be made on the basis of clinical
suspicion supported by appropriate macroscopic findings on
Theories and evidence for pathogenetic mechanisms are
sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, typical histological findings
too complex to be considered in this document. The broad
on biopsy, and negative stool examinations for infectious
areas examined are epidemiology, the gut/environmental
agents. For CD the diagnosis depends on demonstrating
interface, the inflammatory process, and genetics of each
focal, asymmetric, and often granulomatous inflammation
disease. Epidemiological studies have considered diet, drug,
but the investigations selected vary according to the present-
and vaccination history, seasonal variation, water supply, and
ing manifestations, physical findings, and complications.
includes work on luminal bacteria, biofilms, the epithelial
glycocalyx and mucus, epithelial barrier function, epithelial
A full history should include recent travel, medication,
remodelling, and immune/epithelial interactions. The inflam-
smoking, and family history. Details should include the stool
matory process has been examined through cell signalling
frequency and consistency, urgency, rectal bleeding, abdom-
pathways, cytokine profiles, eicosanoid and other inflamma-
inal pain, malaise, fever, weight loss, and symptoms of
tory mediators, lymphocyte trafficking, cell surface mole-
extraintestinal (joint, cutaneous, and eye) manifestations of
cules, interactions between stromal and immune cells, and
IBD. General examination includes general wellbeing, pulse
neuroimmune communication. Genetics have adopted a
rate, blood pressure, temperature, checking for anaemia, fluid
candidate gene approach, genome wide screening through
depletion, weight loss, abdominal tenderness or distension,
microsatellite markers and, most recently, studies on func-
palpable masses, and perineal examination.
tional gene expression. Mutations of one gene (CARD15/NOD2), located on Chr 16, have been associated with small
intestinal CD in white (but not oriental) populations. Twoother genes (OCTN1 and 2 on Chr 5 and DLG5 on Chr 10)
Laboratory investigations should include full blood count
have recently been associated with CD but these need to be
(FBC), U&Es, liver function tests, and erythrocyte sedimen-
confirmed by independent studies. Other genes have yet to be
tation rate (ESR) or C reactive protein (CRP), as well as
identified, although their existence is strongly suggested by
microbiological testing for infectious diarrhoea including
replicated linkage to a number of chromosomes.
Clostridium difficile toxin. Additional tests may be needed forpatients who have travelled abroad. Abdominal radiographyis essential in the initial assessment of patients with
4.4 Clinical features and pattern of disease4 12–16
suspected severe IBD: it excludes colonic dilatation and
The cardinal symptom of UC is bloody diarrhoea. Associated
may help assess disease extent in UC or identify proximal
symptoms of colicky abdominal pain, urgency, or tenesmus
constipation. In CD abdominal radiography may give an
may be present. UC is a severe disease that used to carry a
impression of a mass in the right iliac fossa, or show evidence
high mortality and major morbidity. With modern medical
and surgical management, the disease now has a slightexcess of mortality in the first two years after diagnosis, butlittle subsequent difference from the normal population.
However, a severe attack of UC is still a potentially life
For all patients presenting with diarrhoea, rigid sigmoido-
threatening illness. The clinical course of UC is marked by
scopy should be performed unless there are immediate plans
exacerbation and remission. About 50% of patients with UC
to perform flexible sigmoidoscopy. Macroscopic features of
have a relapse in any year. An appreciable minority has
UC are loss of the vascular pattern, granularity, friability, and
frequently relapsing or chronic, continuous disease and,
ulceration of the rectal mucosa. A rectal biopsy is best taken
overall, 20–30% of patients with pancolitis come to colect-
for histology even if there are no macroscopic changes.
omy. After the first year approximately 90% of patients arefully capable of work (defined by ,1 month off work per
year), although UC causes significant employment problems
For mild to moderate disease, colonoscopy is usually
preferable to flexible sigmoidoscopy, because the extent of
Symptoms of CD are more heterogeneous, but typically
disease can be assessed, but in moderate to severe disease
include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and weight loss. Systemic
there is a higher risk of bowel perforation and flexible
symptoms of malaise, anorexia, or fever are more common
sigmoidoscopy is safer. It is appropriate to defer investiga-
with CD than UC. CD may cause intestinal obstruction due to
tions until the clinical condition improves. For suspected CD,
strictures, fistulae (often perianal), or abscesses. Both
colonoscopy to the terminal ileum and small bowel barium
ulcerative and Crohn’s colitis are associated with an
studies to define extent and site of disease are appropriate. A
increased risk of colonic carcinoma. In CD surgery is not
terminal ileal biopsy performed at colonoscopy documents
curative and management is directed to minimising the
the extent of examination and may find microscopic evidence
impact of disease. At least 50% of patients require surgical
(sulphasalazine (Salazopyrin), olsalazine (Dipentum),
Double contrast barium enema is usually inferior to colono-
scopy because it does not allow mucosal biopsy and mayunderestimate the extent of disease. Small bowel radiologyby follow through or intubation (small bowel enema) is the
current standard for assessing the small intestine. Other
The main role for 5-ASA is maintenance of remission in UC.
conditions (including tuberculosis, Behcet’s, lymphoma,
All 5-ASA derivatives show comparable efficacy to sulphasa-
vasculitis) may also cause ileal disease. The role of capsule
lazine, but in a meta-analysis the parent compound had a
endoscopy is at present unclear. White cell scanning is a safe,
modest therapeutic advantage for maintaining remission
non-invasive investigation, but lacks specificity. Ultrasound
(odds ratio 1.29, confidence interval 1.08 to 1.57). The choice
in skilled hands is a sensitive and non-invasive way of
of 5-ASA is debated, but is influenced by tolerability
identifying thickened small bowel loops in CD and may
(mesalazine is tolerated by 80% of those unable to tolerate
identify abscesses or free fluid in the peritoneum. Computed
sulphasalazine), dose schedule (twice daily dosing is asso-
tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, especially of
ciated with better compliance) and cost. Efficacy may depend
the perineum, help evaluate activity and complications of
more on adherence with the prescribed dose than the delivery
disease. Laparoscopy may be necessary in selected patients,
system. If the delivery system is considered important, then
especially where the differential diagnosis of intestinal
the drug is best matched to the site of disease, by using azo-
bonded compounds for distal disease. Maintenance therapywith all 5-ASA drugs may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer
by up to 75% (OR 0.25, CI 0.13 to 0.48). This favours long
After the diagnosis of UC or CD has been confirmed, the
term treatment for patients with extensive UC. 5-ASA is less
disease extent should be defined, because it determines the
effective for maintaining remission in CD. Mesalazine .2 g/
best route for therapy. For UC the extent is defined as the
day reduces relapse after surgery (NNT = 8), especially after
proximal margin of macroscopic inflammation, because this
small bowel resection (40% reduction at 18 months). It is
is most clearly related to the risk of complications, including
ineffective after steroid induced remission, except for those at
dilatation and cancer. The implications of limited macro-
high risk of relapse given 4 g/day (relapse risk on placebo 2.0,
scopic disease with extensive microscopic inflammation
remain unclear. For CD both small bowel and colon shouldbe assessed.
Active disease25 28–31Higher doses of 5-ASA (4 g/day) are more effective than
placebo for inducing remission in mild UC or CD. For
Pathological examination of biopsy specimens should be
ulcerative colitis, greater clinical improvement (but not
carried out histologically according to the BSG document A
necessarily remission) is associated with doses >3 g/day.
Structured Approach to Colorectal Biopsy Assessment (Guidelines in
Clinical improvement characteristically occurs at twice the
Gastroenterology No 9). There should be an attempt to define
remission rate. In a meta-analysis of oral 5-ASA for active
the type of IBD, to mention other co-existent diagnoses or
UC, of 19 trials involving 2032 patients, nine were placebo
complications, and to mention the presence or absence of
controlled and 10 compared mesalazine with sulphasalazine.
The outcome of interest on an intention to treat principle wasthe failure to induce remission, so that a pooled odds ratio,1.0 indicates one treatment to be more effective than
another. Mesalazine was more than twice as effective as
It is desirable that clinicians discuss imaging with an
placebo (OR 0.39; CI 0.29 to 0.52, but not significantly better
appropriate radiologist, to avoid unnecessary exposure to
than sulphasalazine (OR 0.87; CI 0.63 to 1.20). In active
ionising radiation. There should be a forum to review the
Crohn’s ileocolitis, a meta-analysis of the three placebo
results of imaging in the context of the clinical history so that
controlled trials of Pentasa 4 g daily for 16 weeks in a total of
appropriate management can be planned.
615 patients, showed a mean reduction of the CDAI frombaseline of 263 points, compared with 245 points for
placebo (p = 0.04). While this confirms that Pentasa 4 g/day
Therapy for IBD is a rapidly evolving field, with many new
is superior to placebo in reducing CDAI, the clinical
biological agents under investigation that are likely to change
significance is not clear. Subgroup analyses do not provide
therapeutic strategies radically in the next decade. Details of
sufficiently clear answers to whether one group of patients
the principal drugs can only be summarised in this
Side effects of sulphasalazine occur in 10–45%, depending on
(Including mesalazine or 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA),
the dose. Headache nausea, epigastric pain, and diarrhoea are
‘‘mesalamine’’ in the USA.) Different formulations deliver
most common and dose related. Serious idiosyncratic
millimolar concentrations to the gut lumen. Aminosalicylates
reactions (including Stevens Johnson syndrome, pancreatitis,
are available as oral tablets, sachets or suspension, liquid or
agranulocytosis, or alveolitis) are rare. Mesalazine intoler-
foam enemas, or suppositories. They act on epithelial cells by
ance occurs in up to 15%. Diarrhoea (3%), headache (2%),
a variety of mechanisms to moderate the release of lipid
nausea (2%), and rash (1%) are reported, but a systematic
mediators, cytokines, and reactive oxygen species. Oral forms
review has confirmed that all new 5-ASA agents are safe,
with adverse events that are similar to placebo for mesalazine
or olsalazine. No comparison between balsalazide and
pH dependent release/resin coated (Asacol, Salofalk, or
placebo has been published, but events were lower than
with sulphasalazine. Acute intolerance in 3% may resemble a
flare of colitis as it includes bloody diarrhoea. Recurrence on
N delivery by carrier molecules, with release of 5-ASA after
rechallenge provides the clue. Renal impairment (including
splitting by bacterial enzymes in the large intestine
interstitial nephritis and nephrotic syndrome) is rare and
Guidelines for the management of IBD in adults
idiosyncratic. A population based study found the risk (OR
and need adjunctive therapy with thiopurines or as an
1.60, CI 1.14 to 2.26 compared with normal) to be associated
with disease severity rather than the dose or type ofmesalazine. Patients with pre-existing renal impairment,
other potentially nephrotoxic drugs, or comorbid disease
Three broad groups can be identified, although 50% of
should have renal function monitored during 5-ASA therapy.
patients report no adverse event. Early effects due tosupraphysiological doses include cosmetic (acne, moon face,
oedema), sleep and mood disturbance, dyspepsia, or glucose
(Oral prednisolone, prednisone, budesonide (among others),
intolerance. Effects associated with prolonged use (usually
or intravenous hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone.) Topical
.12 weeks, but sometimes less) include posterior subcap-
suppositories, foam or liquid enemas include hydrocortisone,
sular cataracts, osteoporosis, osteonecrosis of the femoral
prednisolone metasulphobenzoate, betamethasone, budeso-
head, myopathy, and susceptibility to infection. Effects
nide). Many strategies attempt to maximise topical effects
during withdrawal include acute adrenal insufficiency (from
while limiting systemic side effects of steroids. Budesonide
sudden cessation), a syndrome of myalgia, malaise, and
(Entocort, Budenofalk) is a poorly absorbed corticosteroid
arthralgia (similar to recrudesence of CD), or raised
with limited bioavailability and extensive first pass metabo-
intracranial pressure. Complete steroid withdrawal is facili-
lism that has therapeutic benefit with reduced systemic
tated by early introduction of azathioprine, adjuvant nutri-
4.8.3 Thiopurines43(Azathioprine (AZA) and mercaptopurine (MP), unlicensed
Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory agents for
therapy for IBD.) Purine antimetabolites inhibit ribonucleo-
moderate to severe relapses of both UC and CD. They have
tide synthesis, but the mechanism of immunomodulation is
no role in maintenance therapy for either disease. They act
by inducing T cell apoptosis by modulating cell (Rac1)
through inhibition of several inflammatory pathways—
signalling. Azathioprine is metabolised to mercaptopurine
suppressing interleukin transcription, induction of IkB that
stabilises the NFkB complex, suppression of arachidonic acid
T(h)ioguanine has been used for treatment of IBD, but
metabolism, and stimulation of apoptosis of lymphocytes
caution is appropriate because of potential hepatotoxicity.
within the lamina propria of the gut.
Thiopurines are effective for both active disease and main-
Trials are all over 30 years old, but results are consistent. Oral
taining remission in CD and UC. A Cochrane review of the
prednisolone (starting at 40 mg daily) induced remission in
efficacy of AZA and MP for inducing remission in active CD
77% of 118 patients with mild to moderate disease within
demonstrated a benefit for thiopurine therapy compared with
2 weeks, compared with 48% treated with 8 g/day sulphasal-
placebo with an odds ratio of 2.36 (95% CI 1.57 to 3.53). This
azine. A combination of oral and rectal steroids is better than
equates to a number needed to treat (NNT) of 5 and a
either alone. Adverse events are significantly more frequent
number needed to harm (NNH) of 14. Their efficacy at
at a dose of 60 mg/day compared with 40 mg/day, without
maintaining remission is confirmed in another Cochrane
added benefit, so 40 mg appears optimal for outpatient
review (OR 2.16 (CI 1.35 to 3.47), NNT = 7). Thiopurines are
management of acute UC. Too rapid reduction can be
effective as maintenance therapy for CD for up to 4 years. In
associated with early relapse and doses of prednisolone
a prospective trial, 83 patients with CD who had been in
(15 mg day are ineffective for active disease.
remission for 3.5 years on AZA were randomised to continueAZA or placebo and followed for 18 months. Relapse rates
were 21% and 8% in placebo and AZA groups respectively
Two major trials established corticosteroids as effective
(p = 0.0195). Practical advice for patients with either CD or
therapy for inducing remission in CD. The National Co-
UC who are started on AZA is to continue treatment for
operative Crohn’s Disease Study randomised 162 patients,
3–4 years and then stop, except in those with evidence of
achieving 60% remission with 0.5–0.75 mg/kg/day predni-
continuing disease activity. For the 20% who relapse, AZA
sone (the higher dose for more severe disease) and tapering
can be restarted and continued. No direct comparisons of the
over 17 weeks, compared with 30% on placebo (NNT = 3).
efficacy of AZA and MP in IBD exist. Some patients who are
The comparable European Co-operative Crohn’s Disease
Study on 105 patients achieved 83% remission on prednisone1 mg/kg/day compared with 38% on placebo (NNT = 2) over
18 weeks. The high placebo response rate should be noted,
The main role for thiopurines is steroid sparing (NNT = 3).
because disease activity in Crohn’s (and UC) fluctuates
For arbitrary, but practical, purposes this also applies to UC.
spontaneously. No formal dose response trial has been
Thiopurines should be considered for patients who require
performed, but 92% remission within 7 weeks was achieved
two or more corticosteroid courses within a calendar year;
in 142 patients with moderately active Crohn’s given
those whose disease relapses as the dose of steroid is reduced
prednisone 1 mg/kg/day with no tapering. Budesonide is
below 15 mg; relapse within 6 weeks of stopping steroid
slightly less effective than prednisolone, but is an appropriate
steroids; or postoperative prophylaxis of complex (fistulating
alternative for active for active ileo-ascending colonic disease.
Efficacy should be balanced against side effects, but decisive
Tailoring or optimisation of thiopurine therapy can occur
treatment of active disease in conjunction with a strategy for
before or during treatment. Clinicians should aim for a
complete withdrawal of steroids is often appreciated by a
maintenance dose of AZA of 2–2.5 mg/kg/day and 6-MP
patient suffering miserable symptoms. Regimens of steroid
of 1–1.5 mg/kg/day in both UC and CD. The ‘‘maximum’’
therapy vary between centres. A standard weaning strategy
dose will differ between individuals and effectively means
helps identify patients who relapse rapidly or do not respond
that level at which leucopenia develops. Leucopenia is a
myelotoxic side effect of thiopurines and the metabolic
is effective for preventing relapse after remission has been
phenotype of the individual can be defined by measuring
induced by MTX. MTX was superior to placebo in 76 patients
thiopurine methyl transferase (TPMT) activity or the TPMT
randomised to 15 mg/week of MTX or placebo for 9 months
(65% v 39% in remission at week 40; p = 0.04). The need forsteroids was reduced (p = 0.01). No comparable trials have
addressed the role of MTX in the induction or maintenance of
Patients with leukaemia who are TPMT deficient are at
increased risk of myelotoxicity. This does not necessarilyapply in IBD. In one study the majority (77%) of 41 IBD
patients with AZA induced bone marrow suppression did not
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, doses of ,15 mg/week are
carry a TPMT mutation. Evidence that TPMT activity predicts
ineffective for CD and 25 mg/week is standard. For practical
other side effects or outcome is limited. It cannot yet be
reasons relating to the reconstitution of parenteral cytotoxic
recommended as a prerequisite to therapy, because decades
drugs, oral dosing is most convenient, although parenteral
of experience has shown clinical AZA to be safe in UC or CD.
administration may be more effective. Subcutaneous admin-istration may be reserved for patients with small intestinal
CD who do not absorb oral MTX. Duration of therapy is
Manufacturers recommend weekly FBCs for the first 8 weeks
debated. The 3 year remission rate for methotrexate in one
of therapy followed by blood tests at least every 3 months.
series was 51%, which compares with data on azathioprine
There is no evidence that this is effective. Less frequent
from the same centre (69% 3 year remission rate for
monitoring (within 4 weeks of starting therapy and every
6–12 weeks thereafter) may be sufficient. It is just asimportant to advise patients to report promptly should a
sore throat or other sign of infection occur.
Measurement of full blood count and liver function tests are
advisable before and within 4 weeks of starting therapy, thenmonthly. The same caveats as for monitoring thiopurine
The most common cause of intolerance (affecting up to 20%)
therapy apply. Patients should remain under specialist follow
are flu-like symptoms (myalgia, headache, diarrhoea) that
characteristically occur after 2–3 weeks and cease rapidlywhen the drug is withdrawn. Profound leucopenia candevelop suddenly and unpredictably in between blood tests,
although it is rare (around 3%). Hepatotoxicity and pancrea-
Early toxicity from methotrexate is primarily gastrointestinal
titis are uncommon (,5%). Although azathioprine is the best
(nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomatitis) and this may
agent for maintaining remission, 28% of 622 patients
be limited by co-prescription of folic acid 5 mg two or three
experienced side effects. Fortunately when the drug is
days apart from the MTX. Treatment is discontinued in
tolerated for 3 weeks, long term benefit can be expected.
10–18% of patients because of side effects. The principal
Thiopurines can reasonably be continued during pregnancy if
concerns are hepatotoxicity and pneumonitis. A study of liver
UC or CD has been refractory. In a study of 155 men and
biopsies in IBD patients taking MTX showed mild histological
women with IBD who were parents of 347 pregnancies while
abnormalities, despite cumulative doses of up to 5410 mg.
taking MP there was no difference in miscarriage, congenital
Surveillance liver biopsy is not warranted, but if the AST
abnormality, or infection rate in the thiopurine group
doubles then it is sensible to withhold MTX until it returns to
compared with a control group. The risk of malignancy
normal, before a rechallenge. The prevalence of pneumonitis
related to thiopurine is at best small. Large audits of up to 755
has been estimated at two to three cases per 100 patient years
patients have shown no increased risk of lymphoma or other
of exposure, but large series have not reported any cases.
cancers in IBD patients treated with AZA. A primary careprescribing database study of nearly 1500 IBD patients who
received at least one prescription of AZA/6-MP also showed
(Oral or intravenous, unlicensed therapy for UC.) Ciclosporin
no overall risk (relative risk 1.6 (95% CI 0.1 to 8.8)) of
(CsA) is an inhibitor of calcineurin, preventing clonal
lymphoma but little is known about the duration or dose of
expansion of T-cell subsets. It has a rapid onset of action
therapy of this cohort. Decision analysis suggests that the
and is effective in the management of severe UC.
benefits of AZA outweigh any risk of lymphoma in IBD.
(Oral, subcutaneous or intramuscular injection, unlicensed
Intravenous CsA is rapidly effective as a salvage therapy for
therapy for IBD.) Polyglutamated metabolites of methotrex-
patients with refractory colitis, who would otherwise face
ate inhibit dihydrofolate reductase, but this cytotoxic effect
colectomy, but its use is controversial because of toxicity and
does not explain its anti-inflammatory effect. Inhibition of
long term failure rate. Toxicity can be reduced by using lower
cytokine and eicosanoid synthesis probably contribute.
doses (2 mg/kg/day intravenously), by oral microemulsionciclosporin, or by monotherapy without corticosteroids. The
drug should rarely be continued for more than 3–6 monthsand its main role is a bridge to thiopurine therapy. A meta-
Methotrexate (MTX) is effective for inducing remission or
analysis of four randomised controlled trials showed that CsA
preventing relapse in CD. At present, the role of MTX is in the
treatment of active or relapsing CD in those refractory to orintolerant of AZA or MP. In a controlled study, 141 steroiddependent patients were randomised to either 25 mg/week of
intramuscular MTX or placebo for 16 weeks, with a
Measurement of blood pressure, full blood count, renal
concomitant daily dose of prednisolone (20 mg at initiation)
function, and CsA concentration (aim 100–200 ng/ml) are
that was reduced over a 3 month period. More patients in the
advisable at 0, 1, and 2 weeks, then monthly. Measurement
MTX treated group were able to withdraw steroids and enter
of blood cholesterol and magnesium are appropriate before
remission compared with placebo (39% v 19%; p = 0.025). It
Guidelines for the management of IBD in adults
Minor side effects occur in 31–51%, including tremor,
National guidelines govern its use. In the UK, it is limited to
paraesthesiae, malaise, headache, abnormal liver function,
patients with severe active CD (Harvey Bradshaw index .8,
gingival hyperplasia, and hirsutism. Major complications are
CD activity index .300) refractory to or intolerant of steroids
reported in 0–17%, including renal impairment, infections,
and immunosuppression, for whom surgery is inappropriate.
and neurotoxicity. The risk of seizures is increased in patients
Retreatment is often necessary, after a variable interval (most
commonly 8–16 weeks). All patients should receive an
(,0.50 mmol/l). Oral therapy is an alternative in these
immunomodulator (AZA, MP, or MTX) unless these cannot
circumstances. Prophylaxis against Pneumocystis carinii pneu-
be tolerated, as these probably extend the interval and reduce
monia is an individual decision dependent on nutritional
development of antibodies to IFX that in turn reduce efficacy
state, concomitant immunomodulator therapy, and duration
and increase side effects. Because IFX is associated with a
of therapy, but other opportunistic infections (for example,
four- or fivefold increase in risk of tuberculosis, all patients
should have a chest x ray to exclude past or present infectionand be asked about previous BCG vaccination before IFX
infusion. Tuberculin testing can be limited to those who have
not had BCG and who are not on immunomodulators.
Infliximab (IFX) (Remicade) is a chimeric anti-TNF mono-
Patients with evidence of previous tuberculosis should be
clonal antibody with potent anti-inflammatory effects,
seen by a thoracic physician. Guidelines for chemoprophy-
possibly dependent on apoptosis of inflammatory cells.
laxis are being produced by the British Thoracic Society
Numerous controlled trials have demonstrated efficacy in
both active and fistulating CD. Guidelines for the use ofinfliximab have been produced by the National Institute ofClinical Excellence (www.nice.org.uk, guideline no 40).
Side effects74 75Treatment with IFX is relatively safe if used for appropriateindications. Infusion reactions (during or shortly after
infusion) are rare and respond to slowing the infusion rate
A multicentre, double blind study in 108 patients with
or treatment with antihistamines, paracetamol, and some-
moderate to severe CD refractory to 5-ASA, corticosteroids,
times corticosteroids. Anaphylactic reactions have been
and/or immunomodulators, demonstrated an 81% response
reported. A delayed reaction of joint pain and stiffness, fever,
rate at 4 weeks after 5 mg/kg IFX compared with 17% given
myalgia, and malaise may occur if there has been an interval
placebo. The duration of response varied, but 48% who had
.1 year following a previous infusion and can be limited by
received 5 mg/kg still had a response at week 12. The
pretreatment with hydrocortisone. Infection is the main
ACCENT-1 study was the definitive retreatment trial.
concern. Active sepsis (for example, an abscess) is an
Maintenance of remission in 335 responders to a single
absolute contraindication, as this risks overwhelming septi-
infusion of IFX 5 mg/kg for active CD (out of an initial 573)
caemia. Reactivation or development of tuberculosis has been
was examined. The protocol was complex. In broad terms,
reported in 24/100 000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis
patients were treated with placebo, 5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg
given anti-TNF therapy, compared with 6/100 000 not given
every 8 weeks until week 46. At week 30, 21% of the placebo
such treatment. IFX may exacerbate existing cardiac failure.
treated patients were in remission compared with 39% of the
The theoretical risk of lymphoproliferative disorders or
patients treated with 5 mg/kg infusions (p = 0.003) and 45%
malignancy (in view of the role of endogenous TNF in
of those treated with 10 mg/kg infusions (p = 0.0002). IFX is
tumour suppression) has not been confirmed in post-
licensed but not yet approved by NICE for maintenance
marketing surveillance, but follow up is short. IFX is best
avoided in those with a history of malignancy.
IFX is the first agent to show a therapeutic effect for
fistulising CD in a controlled trial. Ninety four patients withdraining abdominal or perianal fistulas of at least 3 months’
Therapeutic decisions depend on disease activity and extent.
duration were treated. 68% in the 5 mg/kg group and 56% in
Disease activity is best evaluated objectively using a clinical
the 10 mg/kg group experienced a 50% reduction in the
activity index (the Truelove & Witts’18 or the Simple ClinicalColitis19 indices are recommended). Patients with severe
number of draining fistulas at two or more consecutive visits
disease require hospital admission, whereas those with mild/
compared with 26% given placebo (p = 0.002 and p = 0.02,
moderate disease can generally be managed as outpatients.
respectively). The problem is that the duration of this effect
Disease extent can broadly be divided into distal and more
was in most cases limited to only 3 or 4 months. A large
extensive disease. Topical management is appropriate for
retreatment trial for fistulating CD (ACCENT-II) has been
some patients with active disease. This is usually the case for
conducted. A total of 306 patients with actively draining
those with proctitis and often the case if the disease extends
enterocutaneous fistulae were treated with three induction
into the sigmoid. For those with more extensive disease, oral
infusions of IFX 5 mg/kg at weeks 0, 2, and 6. Of the 306, 195
or parenteral therapy are the mainstays of treatment,
(69%) responded and these were randomised to 5 mg/kg
although some of these patients may get additional benefit
maintenance infusions or placebo every 8 weeks. Patients
who lost response were switched from placebo to activetreatment at 5 mg/kg, or the retreatment dose increasedfrom 5 to 10 mg/kg. At the end of the 12 month trial, 46%
5.1. Active left sided or extensive UC22 28 32 37–39 47 76
of the patients on active retreatment had a fistula response
For the purposes of these guidelines, ‘‘left sided’’ disease is
versus 23% on placebo (p = 0.001). Complete response (all
defined as disease extending proximal to the sigmoid
fistulae closed) was observed in 36% of patients on active
descending junction up to the splenic flexure and ‘‘extensive’’
treatment, compared with 19% on placebo (p = 0.009).
UC as extending proximal to the splenic flexure. Disease
Treatment of fistulising CD with IFX is not currently
activity should be confirmed by sigmoidoscopy and infection
approved by NICE unless criteria for severe active disease
excluded, although treatment need not wait for microbiolo-
For the treatment of active, left sided, or extensive UC:
corticosteroids should be treated with oral prednisolone
40 mg daily. Topical agents may be used as adjunctive
Mesalazine 2–4 g daily or balsalazide 6.75 g daily are
therapy in this situation (grade A).
effective first line therapy for mild to moderately active
N Prednisolone should be reduced gradually according to
severity and patient response, generally over 8 weeks
N Olsalazine 1.5–3 g daily has a higher incidence of
diarrhoea in pancolitis (grade A) and is best for patients
N Sulphasalazine 2–4 g daily has a higher incidence of side
with left sided disease, or intolerance of other 5-ASA.
effects compared with newer 5-ASA drugs (grade A).
N Sulphasalazine has a higher incidence of side effects
Selected patients, such as those with a reactive arthro-
compared with newer 5-ASA drugs (grade A). Selected
patients, such as those with a reactive arthropathy, may
N Topical mesalazine alone or oral mesalazine alone are
effective, but less effective than combination therapy, so
N Prednisolone 40 mg daily is appropriate for patients in
combination therapy is appropriate (grade B).
whom a prompt response is required, or those with mild to
N Proximal constipation should be treated with stool bulking
moderately active disease, in whom mesalazine in appro-
priate dose has been unsuccessful (grade B).
N Prednisolone should be reduced gradually according to
severity and patient response, generally over 8 weeks.
More rapid reduction is associated with early relapse (gradeC).
5.2.1 Active distal colitis should be treated with topical
N Long term treatment with steroids is undesirable. Patients
mesalazine or topical steroid combined with oral
with chronic active steroid dependent disease should be
mesalazine or corticosteroids to give prompt relief of
treated with azathioprine 1.5–2.5 mg/kg/day or mercapto-
purine 0.75–1.5 mg/kg/day (grade A).
5.2.2 There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use
N Topical agents (either steroids or mesalazine) may be
added to the above agents. Although they are unlikely tobe effective alone, they may benefit some patients withtroublesome rectal symptoms (grade B).
N Ciclosporin may be effective for severe, steroid refractory
colitis (grade A) (see section 5.3).
5.3 Severe UC 62–66 82–86Patients who have failed to respond to maximal oraltreatment with a combination of mesalazine and/or steroids
with or without topical therapy, or those who present withsevere disease defined by the Truelove and Witts’ criteria18should be admitted for intensive intravenous therapy
5.1.1 Active left sided or extensive ulcerative colitis should
(below). Monitoring of pulse rate, stool frequency, C reactive
be treated with oral aminosalicylates or cortico-
protein, and plain abdominal radiograph help identify those
steroids to give prompt relief of symptoms, after the
who need colectomy. Close liaison with a surgeon who
different options have been discussed and the views
specialises in the management of patients with UC should be
maintained. Acute onset UC is sometimes difficult to
5.1.2 There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use
distinguish from infective colitis, but treatment with cortico-
of other agents outside trials or specialist centres.
steroids should not be delayed until stool microbiologyresults are available.
The approach to treatment of severe UC involves:
5.2 Active distal UC28 77–81The term ‘‘distal colitis’’ applies to disease up to the sigmoid
N Physical examination daily to evaluate abdominal tender-
descending junction, including ‘‘proctitis’’, meaning disease
ness and rebound tenderness. Joint medical and surgical
limited to the rectum. Patient preference has a greater
influence on management than for extensive colitis, in view
N Recording of vital signs four times daily and more often if
of the option of topical or systemic therapy. Choice of topical
formulation should be determined by the proximal extent of
N A stool chart to record number and character of bowel
the inflammation (suppositories for disease to the recto-
movements, including the presence or absence of blood
sigmoid junction, foam or liquid enemas for more proximal
disease) along with patient preference, such as ease of
N Measurement of FBC, ESR, or CRP, serum electrolytes,
serum albumin, and liver function tests every 24–48 hours.
N Daily abdominal radiography if colonic dilatation (trans-
N In mild to moderate disease, topical mesalazine 1 g daily
verse colon diameter >5.5 cm) is detected at presenta-
(in appropriate form for extent of disease) combined with
tion. If not dilated, there should be a low threshold
oral mesalazine 2–4 g daily, olsalazine 1.5–3 g daily, or
for further radiological assessment if there is clinical
balsalazide 6.75 g daily, are effective first line therapy
N Intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacement to correct
N Topical corticosteroids are less effective than topical
and prevent dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, with
mesalazine, and should be reserved as second line therapy
blood transfusion to maintain a haemoglobin .10 g/dl
for patients who are intolerant of topical mesalazine (grade
N Subcutaneous heparin to reduce the risk of thrombo-
N Patients who have failed to improve on a combination of
N Nutritional support (by enteral or parenteral route) if the
oral mesalazine with either topical mesalazine or topical
Guidelines for the management of IBD in adults
N Intravenous corticosteroids (hydrocortisone 400 mg/day or
is some evidence that maintenance therapy reduces the risk
methylprednisolone 60 mg/day) (grade B). Higher doses of
steroids offer no greater benefit, but lower doses are less
N Oral mesalazine 1–2 g daily or balsalazide 2.5 g daily
Withdrawal of anticholinergic, antidiarrhoeal agents,
should be considered as first line therapy (grade A).
NSAID and opioid drugs, which risk precipitating colonic
Sulphasalazine 2–4 g daily has a higher incidence of side
effects compared with newer 5-ASA drugs (grade A).
Continuation of aminosalicylates once oral intake
resumes, although these have not been studied in severe
Selected patients, such as those with a reactive arthro-
Topical therapy (corticosteroids or mesalazine) if tolerated
Olsalazine 1.5–3 g daily has a higher incidence of
and retained, although there have been limited studies in
diarrhoea in pancolitis (grade A) and is best for patients
with left sided disease, or intolerance of other 5-ASA.
Intravenous antibiotics only if infection is considered, or
Topical mesalazine 1 g daily may be used in patients with
immediately before surgery (grade C). Controlled trials of
distal disease with/without oral mesalazine, but patients
intravenous metronidazole and oral vancomycin in acute
are less likely to be compliant (grade A).
severe UC have shown no significant benefit (grade A).
N All aminosalicylates have been associated with nephro-
N Immediate surgical referral if there is evidence of toxic
toxicity, which appears both to be idiosyncratic and in part
megacolon (diameter .5.5 cm, or caecum .9 cm). The
dose related. Reactions are rare, but patients with pre-
urgency with which surgery is undertaken after recogni-
existing renal disease are at higher risk. Occasional
tion of colonic dilatation depends on the condition of the
(perhaps annual) measurement of creatinine is sensible,
patient: the greater the dilatation and the greater the
although there is no evidence that monitoring is necessary
degree of systemic toxicity, the sooner surgery should be
or effective. Aminosalicylates should be stopped if renal
undertaken, but signs may be masked by steroid therapy
(grade C). In selected patients with mild dilatation,
N Most patients require lifelong therapy, although some
expectant management may be undertaken. Any clinical,
patients with very infrequent relapses (especially if with
laboratory, or radiological deterioration mandates immedi-
limited extent of disease) may remain in remission on no
N Objective re-evaluation on the third day of intensive
N The advantages and disadvantages of continued treatment
treatment. A stool frequency of .8/day or CRP .45 mg/l
with aminosalicylates are best discussed with the patient,
at 3 days appears to predict the need for surgery in 85% of
especially if a patient has been in remission for a
cases. Surgical review and input from specialist colorectal
substantial length of time (.2 years) (grade B).
nurse or stomatherapist is appropriate at this stage. There
N Steroids are ineffective at maintaining remission (grade A).
is no benefit from intravenous steroids beyond 7–10 days
N Azathioprine 1.5–2.5 mg/kg/day or mercaptopurine
0.75–1.5 mg/kg/day (see also section 6.5) are effective at
N Consideration of colectomy or intravenous ciclosporin
maintaining remission in UC (grade A). However, in view
2 mg/kg/day if there is no improvement during the first
of toxicity they should be reserved for patients who
3 days (grade A). Following induction of remission, oral
frequently relapse despite adequate doses of amino-
ciclosporin for 3–6 months is appropriate (grade B).
salicylates, or are intolerant of 5-ASA therapy (grade C).
Intravenous ciclosporin alone may be as effective as
It is common practice to continue aminosalicylates
methylprednisolone, but potential side effects mean
with azathioprine, but limited evidence that this is
that it is rarely an appropriate single first line therapy
N Patients with gastrointestinal intolerance of azathioprine
may be cautiously tried on mercaptopurine before beingconsidered for other therapy or surgery (grade B).
5.3.1 Severe ulcerative colitis should be managed jointly
by a gastroenterologist in conjunction with a colo-rectal surgeon.
5.4.1 Patients with ulcerative colitis should normally receive
5.3.2 Patients should be kept informed of treatment and
maintenance therapy with aminosalicylates,
prognosis, including a 25–30% chance of needing
azathioprine, or mercaptopurine to reduce the risk
5.3.3 Further controlled trials should be conducted in the
medical treatment of severe ulcerative colitis.
6.0 MEDICAL MANAGEMENT OF CROHN’S DISEASEThe severity of CD is more difficult to assess than UC. The
5.4 Maintenance of remission22–24 32 34 47 52 54 77 87–89
general principles are to consider the site (ileal, ileocolic,
Lifelong maintenance therapy is generally recommended for
colonic, other), pattern (inflammatory, stricturing, fistulat-
all patients, especially those with left sided or extensive
ing) and activity of the disease before treatment decisions are
disease, and those with distal disease who relapse more than
made in conjunction with the patient.
once a year. Discontinuation of medication may be reason-
An alternative explanation for symptoms other than active
able for those with distal disease who have been in remission
disease should be considered (such as bacterial overgrowth,
for 2 years and are averse to such medication. However, there
bile salt malabsorption, fibrotic strictures, dysmotility, gall
stones) and disease activity confirmed (usually by CRP orESR) before starting steroids. Individuals with CD have many
investigations over their lifetime and imaging (colonoscopy,small bowel radiology) should not be repeated unless it will
6.1.1 Initial treatment of active ileal or ileocolonic Crohn’s
alter management or a surgical decision depends on the
disease with high dose mesalazine, corticosteroids,
nutritional therapy, or surgery should be tailored tothe severity of disease and take the views of the
disease25 29–31 40–44 57 58 69–71 91–93
6.1.2 There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use
Patients should be encouraged to participate actively in
of other agents outside trials or specialist centres.
the decision to treat with high dose aminosalicylates,different corticosteroids, nutritional therapy, antibiotics,new biological agents, or surgery. Infliximab is considered
6.2 Fistulating and perianal disease72 73 95 96
Active perianal disease or fistulae are often associated with
active CD elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract. The initial
In mild ileocolonic CD, high dose mesalazine (4 g/daily)
aim should be to treat active disease and sepsis. For more
may be sufficient initial therapy (grade A).
complex, fistulating disease, the approach involves defining
For patients with moderate to severe disease, or those with
the anatomy, supporting nutrition, and potential surgery. For
mild to moderate ileocolonic CD that has failed to respond
perianal disease, MRI and examination under anaesthetic are
to oral mesalazine, oral corticosteroids such as predniso-
lone 40 mg daily is appropriate (grade A).
N Prednisolone should be reduced gradually according to
N Metronidazole 400 mg tds (grade A) and/or ciprofloxacin
severity and patient response, generally over 8 weeks.
500 mg bd (grade B) are appropriate first line treatments
More rapid reduction is associated with early relapse (grade
N Azathioprine 1.5–2.5 mg/kg/day or mercaptopurine
N Budesonide 9 mg daily is appropriate for patients with
0.75–1.5 mg/kg/day are potentially effective for simple
isolated ileo-caecal disease with moderate disease activity,
perianal fistulae or enterocutaneous fistulae where distal
but marginally less effective than prednisolone (grade A).
obstruction and abscess have been excluded (grade A).
N Intravenous steroids (hydrocortisone 400 mg/day or
N Infliximab (three infusions of 5 mg/kg at 0, 2, and 6
methylprednisolone 60 mg/day) are appropriate for
weeks) should be reserved for patients whose perianal or
patients with severe disease (grade B). Concomitant
enterocutaneous fistulae are refractory to other treatment
intravenous metronidazole is often advisable, because it
and should be used as part of a strategy that includes
may be difficult to distinguish between active disease and
immunomodulation and surgery (grade A).
N Surgery (section 7), including Seton drainage, fistulect-
N Elemental or polymeric diets are less effective than
omy, and the use of advancement flaps is appropriate for
corticosteroids, but may be used to induce remission in
persistent or complex fistulae in combination with medical
selected patients with active CD who have a contra-
indication to corticosteroid therapy, or who would
N Elemental diets or parenteral nutrition have a role as
themselves prefer to avoid such therapy (grade A).
adjunctive therapy, but not as sole therapy (grade B).
N Elemental or polymeric diets are appropriate adjunctive
N There is insufficient evidence to recommend other agents
outside clinical trials or specialist centres.
N Total parenteral nutrition is appropriate adjunctive ther-
apy in complex, fistulating disease (grade B).
Sulphasalazine 4 g daily is effective for active colonicdisease, but cannot be recommended as first line therapyin view of a high incidence of side effects. It may be
6.2.1 Controlled therapeutic trials combining medical and
appropriate in selected patients (grade A).
surgical therapy in perianal Crohn’s disease should
Metronidazole 10–20 mg/kg/day, although effective, is notusually recommended as first line therapy for CD in viewof the potential for side effects (grade A). It has a role inselected patients with colonic or treatment resistantdisease, or those who wish to avoid steroids.
The same general principles apply, although there are no
Topical mesalazine may be effective in left sided colonic
randomised controlled trials in the treatment of gastroduo-
CD of mild to moderate activity (grade B).
denal or diffuse small bowel disease.
Azathioprine 1.5–2.5 mg/kg/day or mercaptopurine0.75–1.5 mg/kg/day may be used in active CD as adjunc-
N Oral Crohn’s disease. This is best managed in conjunction
tive therapy and as a steroid sparing agent. However, its
with a specialist in oral medicine. Topical steroids, topical
slow onset of action precludes its use as a sole therapy
tacrolimus, intra-lesional steroid injections, enteral nutri-
tion, and infliximab may have a role in management but
N Infliximab 5 mg/kg is effective (grade A), but is best
there are no randomised controlled trials.
avoided in patients with obstructive symptoms (see
N Gastroduodenal disease. Symptoms are often relieved by
proton pump inhibitors. Surgery is difficult and may be
N Surgery should be considered for those who have failed
medical therapy and may be appropriate as primary
N Diffuse small bowel disease. Stricture dilatation or stricture-
therapy in patients with limited ileal or ileo-caecal disease
plasty with or without triamcinolone injection should be
considered. Nutritional support before and after surgery is
Guidelines for the management of IBD in adults
usually essential. Other approaches, including the combi-
N Monitoring the FBC to detect neutropenia is advisable,
nation of infliximab with surgery for residual strictures,
although there is no evidence that this is effective because
profound neutropenia and sepsis can develop rapidly. TheFBC is best checked within 4 weeks of starting therapyand every 6–12 weeks thereafter, although may be done
6.4 Maintenance of remission25 27 31 36 40 45 46 52 59 71 100–103
more frequently. Routine measurement of thiopurine
The efficacy of drug therapy appears to depend on whether
methyltransferase activity before treatment, which may
remission was achieved with medical or surgical therapy, on
identify some (but not all) patients at risk of neutropenia,
the risk of relapse, and site of disease. Smoking cessation is
cannot yet be recommended but is debated. Large published
probably the most important factor in maintaining remission.
series report safe use of azathioprine without TPMT assay.
N Methotrexate IM 25 mg weekly for up to 16 weeks
followed by 15 mg weekly is effective for chronic active
All smokers should be strongly advised to stop (grade A),
disease (grade A). Oral dosing is effective for many patients
with help (counselling, nicotine patches, or substitutes)
N Infliximab (5 mg/kg) should be reserved for patients with
Mesalazine has limited benefit and is ineffective at doses
moderate to severe CD, who are refractory to or intolerant
,2 g/day, or for those who have needed steroids to induce
of treatment with steroids, mesalazine, azathioprine/
mercaptopurine, and methotrexate, and where surgery is
Azathioprine 1.5–2.5 mg/kg/day or mercaptopurine
0.75–1.5 mg/kg are effective, but reserved as second linetherapy because of potential toxicity (grade A).
Methotrexate (15–25 mg IM weekly) is effective forpatients whose active disease has responded to IMmethotrexate (grade A). It is appropriate for those
6.5.1 Immunomodulation with azathioprine, mercaptopur-
intolerant of, or who have failed, azathioprine/mercapto-
ine, or methotrexate should be tried if steroids cannot
purine therapy (grade B) once potential toxicity and other
be withdrawn without deterioration in disease
options, including surgery, have been discussed with the
patient. Folic acid 5 mg once a week, taken 3 days aftermethotrexate, may reduce side effects. Subcutaneous or
oral therapy may be effective (grade B).
Infliximab is effective at a dose of 5–10 mg/kg every
8 weeks in patients who have responded to an initial
For UC, surgery should be advised for disease not responding
infusion 12 weeks earlier, for up to 44 weeks (grade A). It
to intensive medical therapy. The decision to operate is best
is best used as part of treatment strategy including
taken by the gastroenterologist and colorectal surgeon in
immunomodulation once other options, including surgery,
conjunction with the patient. Other patients with dysplasia or
have been discussed with the patient (grade B).
carcinoma, poorly controlled disease, recurrent acute on
Sulphasalazine cannot be recommended (grade A).
chronic episodes of UC, or those with a retained rectal stump
N Corticosteroids, including budesonide, are not effective
following previous colectomy should be counselled regarding
(grade A), although some patients have chronic active
disease who appear steroid dependent (below).
For CD, surgery should only be undertaken for sympto-
matic rather than asymptomatic, radiologically identifieddisease, because it is potentially panenteric and usually
recurs following surgery. Resections should be conservative.
There are few randomised controlled trials of surgical
6.4.1 Patients with Crohn’s disease who smoke should be
options and practice in IBD. General principles are as follows:
6.4.2 Immunomodulation with azathioprine, mercaptopur-
N Patients requiring surgery for IBD are best managed under
ine, or methotrexate is usually appropriate if patients
the joint care of a surgeon and a gastroenterologist with an
relapse more than once per year as steroids are
N Preoperative counselling and marking of stoma sites
should be performed by a clinical colorectal nursespecialist in stoma therapy (grade C).
N Midline incisions should usually be employed for IBD
patients requiring laparotomy (grade B).
Long term treatment with steroids is undesirable. Patients
N The procedure of choice in acute fulminant UC or CD is a
who have a poor response to steroids can be divided into
subtotal colectomy leaving a long rectal stump, either
steroid refractory and steroid dependent. Steroid-refractory
incorporated into the lower end of the abdominal wound
disease may be defined as active disease in spite of an
or exteriorised as a mucus fistula, to facilitate later rectal
adequate dose and duration of prednisolone (>20 mg/d for
excision and minimise the risk of intraperitoneal dehis-
>2 weeks) and steroid dependence as a relapse when the steroid
dose is reduced below 20 mg/day, or within 6 weeks of
N Patients requiring elective surgery for UC should be
stopping steroids. Such patients should be considered for
counselled regarding all surgical options, including ileo-
treatment with immunomodulators if surgery is not an
anal pouch where appropriate (grade C).
N Resections in CD should be limited to macroscopic disease
N Azathioprine 1.5–2.5 mg/kg/day, or mercaptopurine 0.75–
1.25 mg/kg/day are the first line agents of choice for
N Primary anastomosis should not be performed in the
steroid dependent disease (grade A).
presence of sepsis and malnutrition (grade B).
N Anal and perianal CD should be treated surgically only
N Procedures for perianal CD should usually be conservative
and in conjunction with medical treatment, particularly
Abdominal pain is a common but under-researched feature
aiming at drainage of sepsis. Repair of fistulas may be
of IBD. There are many potential mechanisms. These include
appropriate in selected cases with absent or minimal rectal
acute and subacute obstruction in CD due to disease or
adhesions, serosal and mucosal inflammation, visceralhypersensitivity, secondary irritable bowel syndrome, proc-
7.2 Preventing postoperative recurrence25 26 120–127
talgia fugax, the likely impact of emotional factors on pain
For patients who smoke, cessation significantly reduces
thresholds, and visceral distension where there is dilation.
postoperative relapse. Additional medical therapy should be
Gall stones, renal calculi, and chronic pancreatitis should be
considered for at least 18 months after surgery, especially if
considered. In addition, arthritis, iritis, and painful skin
disease has frequently relapsed prior to surgery, or after
complications require analgesia in many patients. Most
surgery for fistulating disease, or after a second operation.
analgesics are relatively ineffective and have the potential
to worsen underlying disease. Where possible, treatment is of
All smokers should be strongly advised to stop (grade B),
the underlying cause (including corticosteroids and if
appropriate, treatment of associated irritable bowel syn-
Mesalazine (>2 g/day) lowers postoperative recurrence in
drome). Where non-specific pain relief is needed, an opioid
small bowel disease (grade A), but is ineffective after
that has less effect on motility such as tramadol may help.
N Azathioprine 1.5–2.5 mg/kg/day or mercaptopurine
0.75–1.5 mg/kg/day may be used for preventing post-
8.2 Surveillance for colonic carcinoma24 133–136
operative recurrence and may be better than mesalazine
The value of surveillance colonoscopy in UC remains debated.
It is important to discuss with individual patients their risk of
colorectal cancer, the implications should dysplasia be
Metronidazole (20 mg/kg/day for 3 months) effectively
identified, the limitations of surveillance (which may miss
delays recurrence after ileocolic resection for up to
dysplasia), and the small, but definable, risks of colonoscopy.
18 months (grade A), but potential side effects include
A joint decision on the appropriateness of surveillance can
then be made, taking the patient’s views into account.
N It is advisable that patients with UC should have a
colonoscopy after 8–10 years to re-evaluate disease extent
(grade C). Whether patients with previously extensivedisease whose disease has regressed benefit from surveil-lance is unknown.
7.2.1 Patients who smoke should be strongly advised to
stop and offered help to achieve this.
N For those with extensive colitis opting for surveillance,
colonoscopies should be conducted every 3 years in the
7.2.2 Postoperative adjuvant treatment should be consid-
second decade, every 2 years in the third decade, and
ered in all patients and normally be used for patients
annually in the fourth decade of disease (grade C).
who have frequently relapsed before surgery.
N Four random biopsies every 10 cm from the entire colon
are best taken with additional samples of suspicious areas
Up to 45% of patients who undergo ileal pouch surgery for UC
suffer from pouchitis. Pouchitis is a new disease and
N Patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis appear to
represent a subgroup at higher risk of cancer, and they
Conditions that mimic pouchitis (cuffitis, pelvic sepsis, pre-
should have more frequent (perhaps annual) colonoscopy
pouch ileitis, irritable pouch) should be considered. There are
N If dysplasia (of any grade) is detected, the biopsies
should be reviewed by a second gastrointestinal patholo-
Metronidazole 400 mg tds (grade A) or ciprofloxacin
gist and if confirmed, then colectomy is usually advisable
250 mg bd (grade B) for 2 weeks is the first line therapy
N Mesalazine or corticosteroids may be used in acute
pouchitis if antibiotics are ineffective (grade C).
N Long term, low dose metronidazole or ciprofloxacin are
potentially effective for chronic pouchitis (grade B).
8.2.1 The appropriateness of surveillance should be
N VSL3 probiotic therapy (although not widely available)
discussed with patients who have ulcerative colitis
may be used for chronic pouchitis (grade A).
or Crohn’s colitis and a joint decision made on thebalance of benefit to the individual.
7.3.1 The diagnosis of pouchitis should normally be made
on clinical and endoscopic and histological criteria.
As both UC and CD often occur in young adults, managingIBD in pregnancy is not uncommon. It has been estimated
7.3.2 Initial therapy with metronidazole or ciprofloxacin is
that approximately 25% of female patients conceive after the
appropriate, which may need to be continued for
diagnosis of IBD has been made. Maintaining adequate
extended periods in the minority of patients who
disease control during pregnancy is essential for both
Guidelines for the management of IBD in adults
N If planning pregnancy, patients should be counselled
N Nutritional support is appropriate for those with intestinal
to conceive during remission and advised to con-
partial obstruction awaiting surgery (grade C), or severely
tinue their maintenance medication. Before conception,
symptomatic perianal disease (grade C), or those with
patients should be well nourished and take folate
postoperative complications. Enteral nutrition is preferred
when the patient’s condition permits (grade C).
N Flexible sigmoidoscopy may be used safely where the
N Serum vitamin B12 is best measured annually in patients
information provided will significantly alter management.
The least extensive procedure possible should be employed(grade B).
N Patients with acute severe colitis or other life threatening
8.5 Management of extraintestinal manifestations146
complications of disease should be managed as for the
Extraintestinal manifestations are found in both CD and UC.
non-pregnant patient, including abdominal radiograph.
Those that are associated with active intestinal disease largely
The best interests of the fetus are served by optimal
respond to therapy aimed at controlling disease activity,
management of maternal IBD (grade B).
whereas those that occur whether disease is inactive or
N The mode of delivery should be carefully considered. It
quiescent run a course independent of therapy for intestinal
may be best for patients with perianal CD or ileoanal
disease. Extraintestinal manifestations are more common in
pouch formation to have a Caesarian section to avoid the
Crohn’s colitis and ileocolitis than in exclusively small bowel
risk of damage to the anal sphincter.
N Sulphasalazine should be stopped if there is suspected
N Azathioprine should in general be continued during
Osteoporosis is common in patients with IBD (see BSG
pregnancy, as the risks to the fetus from disease activity
Guidelines for osteoporosis in coeliac disease and inflamma-
appear to be greater than continued therapy. Babies born
tory bowel disease), although the absolute fracture risk,
to mothers on azathioprine may be lighter than normal
contribution of steroids and role of prophylaxis remain a
and the risk-benefit ratio should be discussed with
N Corticosteroids can be used for active disease, as the risks
8.7 The role of the IBD nurse specialist151
to the pregnancy from disease activity are greater than
The IBD clinical nurse specialist represents a new role for the
management of patients with IBD. Nurse specialists are
widely appreciated by patients, relatives, and medical staff.
Methotrexate is absolutely contraindicated in pregnancy
Evolving evidence confirms their cost effectiveness (grade C).
The role of the IBD specialist nurse needs defining, but may
Absolute indications for surgery are unaltered by preg-
nancy and surgery should only be delayed whereaggressive medical therapy may allow critical fetal
N liaising with all members of the MDT, patients, primary
N Intestinal resection should be covered by a defunctioning
N support of patients and carers both in hospital and the
stoma. Primary anastomosis is best avoided (grade B).
N establishment of nurse-led services, including clinics,
telephone helplines, and follow up, rapid access for
patients, and referral to other professionals;
There is little evidence to implicate dietary components in the
N development of systems to enable audit and participation
aetiology or pathogenesis of UC. However, patients are prone
in research projects promoting the care of IBD patients;
to malnutrition and its detrimental effects. There is no
evidence that artificial nutritional support alters the inflam-
developing and leading teaching plans for patients and
matory response in UC, in contrast to CD.
other healthcare professionals involved in IBD manage-
For CD, nutrition should be considered an integral
component of the management of all patients. Malnutritionis common and multifactorial in origin. Nutritional status(including body mass index) is best assessed at diagnosis and
periodically thereafter. As a minimum, patients should be
Many sources of information are available to complement
weighed on outpatient attendance or in primary care. In
explanations or advice given by clinical staff. Patients usually
children and adolescents, regular monitoring with height and
welcome further information, but it should be appropriate
weight centile charts are mandatory. Specific attention
and relevant to their condition. In general, patients should be
should be paid to vitamin B12 status, especially after ileal
offered advice on where additional information may be
obtained and help in interpreting information where theneed arises. Sources are too many to provide a comprehensive
N Nutritional support is appropriate as disease modifying
list. The following provide access to both general and more
therapy for growth failure in children or adolescents with
active small bowel disease (grade A). After detailed
discussion it may be used in preference to steroids,
NACC: The National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s
immunomodulators, or surgery for any patient with
disease, 4 Beaumont House, Sutton Road, St Albans, Herts
active disease (grade B), or for those unresponsive to
AL1 5HH, UK. Information Line: 01727 844296; website:
mesalazine or in whom corticosteroids are contraindicated
N CCFA: The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America;
N Nutritional support is appropriate as adjunctive therapy for
any malnourished patients (grade C), or for those who have
N CORE/DDF: Digestive Diseases Foundation, PO Box 251,
difficulty maintaining normal nutritional status (grade C).
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IL GIORNALE ITALIANO DI CARDIOLOGIA INVASIVA COME PREVENIRE LA NEFROPATIA DA MEZZO DI CONTRASTO. INTERVENTI FARMACOLOGICI E MECCANICI Francesco Di Pede, Edlira Zakja, Leonardo Di Ascenzo, Filippo Falco Dipartimento Cardiologico, ULSS n. 10 “Veneto Orientale” Introduzione li), è stato proposto perché in grado di rilevare precoce-In ambito cardiovascolare le procedure che impiegano
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