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Rev Gastroenterol Disord. 2003 Spring;3(2):81-92.

The state of the art in the management of inflammatory bowel disease.

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Section of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.


Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD), collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), afflict an estimated one million Americans and produce symptoms that impair quality of life and ability to function. Progress in IBD management strategies has led to optimized approaches for achieving the two primary clinical goals of therapy: induction and maintenance of remission. Although surgery is indicated to treat refractory disease or specific complications, pharmacotherapy is the cornerstone of IBD management. The efficacy of aminosalicylates for induction of remission in mild to moderate UC and CD is well established, as is their role for maintenance of remission in UC. The sulfa-free mesalamine formulation offers an adverse effect profile similar to that of placebo, enabling the administration of higher, more effective doses. Although corticosteroids provide potent anti-inflammatory effects, their benefits are countermanded by the risk of intolerable and serious adverse effects, and they are ineffective for maintenance therapy. Other agents effective in inducing or maintaining remission are azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, infliximab, cyclosporine, methotrexate, and antibiotics. Ongoing clinical trials of experimental therapies will generate new tools for IBD treatment. Currently, a broad range of options allows physicians to tailor treatment to each patient's needs and preferences. Such considerations are essential for maximizing adherence to therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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