The majority of studies concerning the clinical course and prognosis in ulcerative colitis are old, retrospective in design, or hospital based.
Dr Magne Henriksen and colleagues identified clinical course and prognosis in a prospective, population-based follow-up study.
The team diagnosed patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or possible IBD in southeastern Norway from 1990 to 1994.
The research team followed the patients prospectively for 5 years.
The evaluation at 5 years included an interview, clinical examination, laboratory tests, and colonoscopy.
The researchers assessed 843 patients diagnosed with IBD.
|57% of the patients had no intestinal symptoms at 5 years|
|Inflammatory Bowel Diseases|
Of these, 454 patients with definite ulcerative colitis and sufficient data for analysis were alive 5 years after inclusion in the study.
The frequency of colectomy in this population was 8%.
The team noted that 41% of the patients were not taking any kind of medication for inflammatory bowel disease at 5 years.
Of the patients initially diagnosed with proctitis, 28% had progressed during the observation period, and 10% to extensive colitis.
The researchers found that 57% of the patients had no intestinal symptoms at 5 years.
Only a minority of patients had symptoms that interfered with everyday activities.
Among the patients who underwent colonoscopy at the 5-year visit, symptoms were reported in 44% of patients without macroscopic inflammation.
The researchers observed a relapse-free course in 22% of the patients.
A decrease in symptoms during the follow-up period was the most frequent course taken by the disease, and was observed in 59% of the cases.
The team noted that the extent of disease was unrelated to symptoms at 5 years, to relapse rate and also to course of disease during the 5-year period.
Dr Henriksen's team concluded, “The disease course and prognosis of ulcerative colitis appears better than previously described in the literature.”
“The frequency of surgery was low, and only a minority of the patients had symptoms that interfered with their everyday activities 5 years after diagnosis.”