The courses of 38 patients with severe, uncomplicated acute colitis (16 with Crohn's colitis and 22 with ulcerative colitis) were analyzed retrospectively. The patients were placed on total parenteral nutrition and treated concomitantly with corticosteroids, antibiotics (often metronidazole), sulfasalazine, and/or azathioprine. Fifteen of the 16 Crohn's colitis patients were initially managed without surgery. Four patients subsequently relapsed, two responded to reinstituted medical therapy, and two underwent colon resection 2 and 4 years later. Of 22 ulcerative colitis patients, 16 required surgery during the initial hospitalization, one patient subsequently had surgery, and one died after refusing surgery. Three of the other four continue in remission on medical therapy. Thus, there were significant differences in this series between the clinical courses of severe ulcerative colitis and severe Crohn's colitis. While most of the ulcerative colitis patients with severe disease underwent colectomy, most of the patients with severe but uncomplicated Crohn's colitis responded to aggressive medical therapy, of which total parenteral nutrition and perhaps bowel rest seemed to be an important part. Afterwards, the majority remained in remission on long-term medical therapy.
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