Management of Pediatric Ulcerative Colitis -ESGHAN/ECCO Recommendations

Two complementary articles provide extensive guidance on the management of ulcerative colitis and acute severe colitis:

  • D Turner et al. JPGN 2018; 67: 257-91
  • D Turner et al. JPGN 2018; 67: 292-310

Between the two articles there are more than 60 practice recommendations, more than 120 practice points, and more than 700 references.  As such, these articles are probably better for a journal review meeting rather than a brief blog post.

Figure 1 (2nd article, page 299) provides a handy algorithm for management of acute severe colitis:

  • On day 1-2, the algorithm recommends stool studies, starting methylprednisolone, and withholding 5-ASA.
  • On day 3, if PUCAI <45, suggests continuing steroid and transitioning to oral therapy when PUCAI <35.  On day 3, if PUCAI ≥45, the authors suggest screening for second line therapy, involve surgery (to discuss colectomy if there is nonresponse to medical treatment), and looking for CMV infection (eg. sigmoidoscopy).
  • On day 5, if PUCAI >65, recommendation is to start 2nd line Rx (eg. infliximab, tacrolimus, or cyclosporine). If PUCAI 35-65, continue corticosteroids for additional 2-5 days. The authors note that infliximab is preferred 2nd line Rx unless planning to transition to vedolizumab.
  • The authors recommend weaning corticosteroids when 2nd line Rx is started
  • The authors recommend addition of an immunomodulator for at least 6 months in responders to infliximab in effort to lower the risk of colectomy.
  • The authors state “urgent colectomy is recommended following failure of 1 second-line therapy.”

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

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An Overlooked Finding in a Recent Acute Severe Ulcerative Colitis Study

A recent study (S Choshen et al. JPGN 2016; 63: 58-64) examined 283 children who were treated with IV steroids for acute severe ulcerative colitis.  This study focused on steroid dosing.  Their conclusion: “there does not seem to be a consistent superiority of high dose (>2 mg/kg/day) versus standard (1.25 mg/kg/day) or low-dose (1 mg/kg/day) methylprednisolone in pediatric acute severe colitis.”

Before looking into the details a little closer, one finding that was not even discussed in the abstract or discussion was the colectomy rate of 31%.  Previous pediatric studies of patients with ulcerative colitis had found rates generally half that rate but notably included patients with milder presentations of ulcerative colitis.  Thus, this rate of 31% (by 1 year after discharge) is useful information to reference when considering pediatric patients with acute severe colitis (ACS).

This study used datasets from the prospective Outcome of Steroid therapy in Colitis Individuals (OSCI) (n=128) and from the retrospective OSCI study (n=99).

Other results:

  • By day 5 of steroids, 45% had at most mild disease (ie PUCAI <35)
  • 31% had failed IV steroids and required salvage therapy (biologic or calcineurin inhibitor)
  • 20% had colectomy by discharge
  • When examining steroid dosage and outcomes, the authors could not discern any differences in need for salvage therapy, PUCAI <35 at day 5, or need for salvage therapy within 1 year. There was a mild difference in length of stay with 9 days in the low-dose group and 10-days in the high dose group.

My take: This large cohort provides some reassurance that current steroid dosing recommendations are probably right, in that there was no discernible improvement with higher doses.  This is in agreement with previous studies in adults which have not shown advantages of methylprednisolone >60 mg/day.  The high colectomy rate of 31% is worth keeping in mind in this population.

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