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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Mar;39(5):459-77. doi: 10.1111/apt.12616. Epub 2014 Jan 9.

Systematic review with meta-analysis: inflammatory bowel disease in the elderly.

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Gastroenterology Unit, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Hepáticas y Digestivas (CIBEREHD), Hospital Universitario de La Princesa and Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Princesa (IP), Madrid, Spain.



Elderly patients represent an increasing proportion of the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) population.


To critically review available data regarding the care of elderly IBD patients.


Bibliographic searches (MEDLINE) up to June 2013.


Approximately 10-15% of cases of IBD are diagnosed in patients aged >60 years, and 10-30% of the IBD population are aged >60 years. In the elderly, IBD is easily confused with other more common diseases, mainly diverticular disease and ischaemic colitis. The clinical features of IBD in older patients are generally similar to those in younger patients. Crohn's disease (CD) in elderly patients is characterised by its predominantly colonic localisation and uncomplicated course. Proctitis and left-sided ulcerative colitis are more common in patients aged >60 years. Infections are associated with age and account for significant mortality in IBD patients. The treatment of IBD in the elderly is generally similar. However, the therapeutic approach in the elderly should be 'start low-go slow'. The benefit of thiopurines in older CD patients remains debatable. Although the indications for anti-tumour necrosis factors in the elderly are generally similar to those for younger patients, lower response and higher adverse events have been reported in the elderly. Surgery in elderly patients does not generally differ. Ileal pouch-anal anastomosis can be successful, provided the patient retains good anal sphincter function.


Management of the older IBD patient differs from that of younger patients; therefore, conventional practice algorithms may have to be modified to account for advanced age.

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