What is the optimal timing for surgical intervention in ulcerative colitis (UC)?

Updated: Apr 01, 2019
  • Author: E Stanton Adkins, III, MD; Chief Editor: Harsh Grewal, MD, FACS, FAAP  more...
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Timing of the surgical intervention is the major preoperative concern in UC. Emergency surgery should be avoided if possible, but if it is indicated, most advocate use of a staged procedure. Initially, emergency total colectomy with end ileostomy is performed to alleviate the major symptoms of the disease, including bleeding and pain, and allows the patient to be weaned from steroids.

Later, an IPAA is created, if the patient desires it, with removal of the remaining rectum. Most advocate leaving the rectum in place during the initial emergency operation to prevent disrupting the pelvic tissue planes, with the aim of making the subsequent pelvic dissection safer. If the patient has mild disease or disease in remission, total proctocolectomy with the creation of an IPAA may be performed as the initial definitive procedure.

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