Intern Emerg Med. 2021 Mar 22. doi: 10.1007/s11739-021-02704-0. Online ahead of print.
Acute severe ulcerative colitis is a medical emergency that warrants in-patient management. This is best served within a multidisciplinary team setting in specialised centres or with expert consultation. Intravenous corticosteroids remain the cornerstone in the management of ASUC and should be initiated promptly, along with general management measures and close monitoring of patients. Unfortunately, one-third of patients will fail to respond to steroids. Response to intravenous corticosteroid therapy needs to be assessed on the third day and rescue therapies, including cyclosporine and infliximab, should be offered to patients not responding. Choice of rescue therapy depends on experience, drug availability and factors associated with each individual patient, such as comorbidities, previous medications or contra-indications to therapy. Patients who have not responded within 7 days to rescue therapy must be considered for surgery. Surgery is a treatment option in ASUC and should not be delayed in cases of failure of medical therapy, because such delays increase surgical morbidity and mortality. This review summarises the current management of acute severe ulcerative colitis and discusses potential future developments.