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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2004 Jan;38(1):66-9.

Endoscopic rectal sparing in children with untreated ulcerative colitis.

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  • 1Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, United Kingdom.



Ulcerative colitis (UC) typically is associated with a confluent proctitis, whereas rectal sparing may be seen in large bowel Crohn disease (CD). A few studies have reported rectal sparing in UC and suggested that this might indicate a more severe form of the disease. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and prognostic significance of rectal sparing in children with newly diagnosed, untreated UC.


The records of all children with untreated UC presenting to a regional pediatric gastroenterology service between January 1996 and December 2001 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were divided into two groups according to the endoscopic appearance of the rectum: Group 1 (proctitis) and Group 2 (rectal sparing). Clinical features, intractability index (duration of active disease as a proportion of length of follow-up), response to treatment, relapse index (number of recurrences per year), and the need for surgery were compared.


Thirty children with untreated UC were identified. Seven (23%) had rectal sparing at initial endoscopy, but disease distribution was otherwise similar in both groups. Presenting symptoms were similar in those with and without rectal sparing. In Group 1, 20 (87%) children achieved remission with initial medical treatment, compared with 3 (43%) in Group 2 (P < 0.05). The intractability index was higher in children with rectal sparing, but the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.22). During a median follow-up period of 2 years, one (4%) child in Group 1 and two (29%) children in Group 2 experienced primary sclerosing cholangitis, and two (29%) children with rectal sparing required colectomy, compared with none in Group 1.


Endoscopic rectal sparing was seen in 23% of children with newly diagnosed, untreated UC, but this feature did not correlate with presenting symptoms. However, the presence of rectal sparing may indicate more aggressive disease that is less responsive to medical treatment.

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