Severe acute ulcerative colitis: The pediatric perspective

Dan Turner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Many features of pediatric ulcerative colitis (UC) are similar to adult-onset disease, but the rate of extensive disease is doubled in children. It is, therefore, not surprising that the admission rate for severe UC is higher in childhood-onset UC, reaching 28% by the age of 16 years. Approximately 30-40% of children will fail corticosteroids and require second-line medical therapy or colectomy. A pediatric UC activity index (PUCAI) score of >65 indicates severe disease and the index can assist in determining the need and timing of second-line medical therapy or colectomy early during the admission. A PUCAI score of >45 points on day 3 identify patients likely to fail corticosteroids (negative predictive value 90-95%), and a score >70 points on day 5 identify patients who will require short-term treatment escalation (positive predicting value 95-100%). Data in children are limited, but it seems that cyclosporine, tacrolimus and infliximab achieve a similar short-term response rate, in the range of 60-80%. Infliximab has the advantage that it may be given for a prolonged period of time while calcineurin inhibitors should not be used for more than 3-4 months, bridging to a thiopurine regimen. Colectomy is indicated in toxic megacolon or in cases refractory to one salvage therapy. The choice of colectomy in other cases should carefully consider its effect on the patient's quality of life, its impact on the physical and emotional development at a critical age of personality development, and its association with a high infertility rate in females undergoing pouch procedure before childbearing age.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)322-326
Number of pages5
JournalDigestive Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Corticosteroids
  • Infliximab
  • Pediatric ulcerative colitis activity index
  • Ulcerative colitis


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