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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jan 20;(1):CD004115. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004115.pub2.

Rectal 5-aminosalicylic acid for induction of remission in ulcerative colitis.

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Division of Gastroenterology, McMaster University, 1200 Main Street 2F59, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8N 3Z5.



5-Aminosalicylates (5-ASA) are considered a first-line therapy for inducing and maintaining remission of mild to moderately active ulcerative colitis (UC). When inflammation in UC is limited to the distal colon, 5-ASA can also be administered rectally as a suppository, enema or foam.


A systematic review was undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of rectal 5-ASA for treating active distal UC.


Electronic searches of the MEDLINE database (1966-2008), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the Cochrane IBD/FBD Group Specialized Trials Register were supplemented by manual reviews of reference listings and conference proceedings.


Randomized trials comparing rectal 5-ASA to placebo or another active therapy were eligible for inclusion. Eligible trials enrolled patients with a distal disease margin less than 60 cm from the anal verge or distal to the splenic flexure. Trials that enrolled subjects less than 12 years of age were excluded.


Eligibility was assessed by three authors. Data were extracted by two authors using standardized forms. Pooled odds ratios (POR) for inducing improvement and remission by symptomatic, endoscopic and histologic criteria were calculated using an intention to treat principle. Fixed effects models were used unless heterogeneity was encountered within groups (P < 0.10), where random effects models were used. All statistical analyses were performed using RevMan 5. Where sufficient data were available, subgroup analyses were performed for disease extent, total daily 5-ASA dose, 5-ASA formulation (enema,suppository, foam) and the type of control intervention (placebo or another active therapy).


Thirty-eight studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Rectal 5-ASA was superior to placebo for inducing symptomatic, endoscopic and histological improvement and remission, with POR for symptomatic improvement 8.87 (8 trials, 95% CI: 5.30 to 14.83; P < 0.00001), endoscopic improvement 11.18 (5 trials, 95% CI 5.99 to 20.88; P < 0.00001), histologic improvement 7.69 (6 trials, 95% CI 3.26 to 18.12; P < 0.00001), symptomatic remission 8.30 (8 trials, 95% CI 4.28 to 16.12; P < 0.00001), endoscopic remission 5.31 (7 trials, 95% CI 3.15 to 8.92; P < 0.00001), and histologic remission 6.28 (5 trials, 95% CI 2.74 to 14.40; P < 0.0001). Rectal 5-ASA was superior to rectal corticosteroids for inducing symptomatic improvement and remission with POR 1.56 (6 trials, 95% CI 1.15 to 2.11; P = 0.004) and 1.65 (6 trials, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.45; P = 0.01), respectively. Rectal 5-ASA was not superior to oral 5-ASA for symptomatic improvement (POR 2.25; 95% CI 0.53 to 19.54; P = 0.27). Neither total daily dose nor 5-ASA formulation affected treatment response.


Rectal 5-ASA should be considered a first-line therapy for patients with mild to moderately active distal UC. The optimal total daily dose and dose frequency of 5-ASA remain to be determined. Future research should define differences in efficacy among patient subgroups defined by proximal disease margin and disease activity. There is a strong need for consensus standardization of outcome measurements for clinical trials in ulcerative colitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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