PURPOSE: Cyclosporin is advocated in the treatment of acute severe ulcerative colitis that has failed to respond to high-dose corticosteroid therapy. This approach is controversial, with critics highlighting the temporary nature of remissions and the potential for adverse effects. There have been few reports of the long-term outcome of those patients who do respond. The purpose of this study was to investigate the clinical outcome of all patients treated with cyclosporin at our institution over the past five years.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study of 46 patients who presented to a tertiary referral center. Initial responders were those who avoided colectomy; a sustained response was defined as a remission that lasted while the patient was taking oral cyclosporin and for three months after this therapy was discontinued.
RESULTS: Thirty-two (69 percent) of 46 patients had an initial response to therapy, and 50 percent met criteria for a sustained response. Eleven of 23 sustained responders subsequently relapsed. At a mean of 22 months' follow-up, 26 percent of patients remain well and have never relapsed. Serious infective complications occurred in two patients, possibly attributable to therapy. No factors predictive of a likely response were identifiable on retrospective analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms the efficacy of cyclosporin in the management of severe ulcerative colitis. Although many initial responders subsequently relapse, such patients may benefit from having even a short time to adjust to the need for surgery. A substantial minority (26 percent) of all patients treated remain in long-term remission.
(C) The ASCRS 2002