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Curr Drug Targets. 2019 Mar 28. doi: 10.2174/1389450120666190328153200. [Epub ahead of print]

Anti-TNF and pouch surgery for ulcerative colitis: the ones who blame for more complications?

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Department of Abdominal Surgery, University Hospitals Leuven, KU Leuven, Leuven. Belgium.
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospitals Leuven, KU Leuven, Leuven. Belgium.


Since the approval in 2005 of anti-TNF drugs for the treatment of ulcerative colitis, concerns have been raised about the potential detrimental effect of these agents on postoperative infectious complications related to pouch surgery. Data on this topic are controversial and mostly derived from retrospective underpowered cohort studies largely affected by relevant bias. Three meta-analyses have been published with contradictory results. Moreover, the correlation between serum levels of infliximab at the time of surgery and the occurrence of septic postoperative complication is far to be proven and remains an answered research question. The construction of an ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA) as first surgical step in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) refractory to medical treatment seems to be associated with an increased risk of septic complications. Population-based data from the United States show a shift towards stage surgery for patients with refractory UC as consequence of the widespread use of biological agents and the increased tendency to consider surgery as ultimate resort (step-up approach). In this setting, the classic 3-stage procedure (ileoanal pouch and diversion ileostomy after initial total colectomy) together with the modified 2-stage approach (ileoanal pouch without diversion ileostomy after initial total colectomy) are both effective options. Whether or not a diversion ileostomy could prevent pouch complications at the time of the pouch construction during the second stage of surgery is still matter of debate. Emerging data seem to claim for increased risk of small bowel obstructions related to the presence of a stoma without proven effect on the prevention of anastomotic leak.


Anti-TNF; Biologics; Pouch surgery; Ulcerative Colitis

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