Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that is characterized by tiny ulcers and small abscesses confined to the inner lining (mucosa) of the colon. In ulcerative colitis, sores (ulcers) develop in the mucosa, or inner lining of the colon or rectum, causing diarrhea, blood, and pus. Inflammation is usually most severe in the sigmoid and rectum and usually diminishes higher in the colon. The disease develops uniformly and consistently until, in some cases, the colon becomes rigid and foreshortened.
Approximately 20% to 25% of patients who do not respond to medical treatments for ulcerative colitis will require surgical treatment. The most common operation is total removal of the colon and rectum with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis, which today is no longer disfiguring and preserves the passage of stool through the anus. The current trend is to perform surgical intervention when it appears the inflammation is not responding to medication and before the patient becomes debilitated by the disease or develops cancer.
If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and would like a second opinion to confirm this diagnosis or discuss treatment options, please contact our Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center.
Note: Inflammatory bowel disease is a general term used to describe two disorders of the gastrointestinal tract for which no specific cause has been found — ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.