Colitis is inflammation of the colon, also known as the large intestine or bowel. A variety of things can cause this inflammation, including infection, inadequate blood supply to the colon, inflammatory bowel disease, and diarrhea with abdominal pain.
Colitis treatment mainly depends on the cause and the severity of your symptoms. Conservative treatment, such as drinking only clear liquids to rest the colon and using medications to control pain, works in many cases of colitis caused by diarrhea and abdominal pain. Sometimes infection, inflammatory bowel disease or diarrhea can make someone ill enough to need intravenous (IV) fluids and other medical treatments. A few people require surgery, including those with blood supply problems or certain types of colitis.
Medications for colitis suppress inflammation of the colon and give intestinal tissue a chance to heal. Colitis medications also reduce and control symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and bleeding. These colitis treatments decrease the frequency of flare-ups to induce and maintain remission from colitis.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, can cause chronic and severe symptoms of colitis requiring treatment. Doctors often prescribe a combination of medications, starting with anti-inflammatory drugs then adding medications to suppress the immune system if the anti-inflammatory drugs do not work.
Medical therapy does not work completely unfortunately, or causes complications for one-quarter to one-third of all people with ulcerative colitis. Surgery to remove all or parts of the colon and small intestine may be necessary in the most severe cases.
There are three main choices when it comes to surgical colitis treatment: a conventional ileostomy, a J-pouch and a continent ileostomy.
A conventional ileostomy, also known as a Brooke ileostomy, involves removing the entire colon and rectum and wearing an external bag. Waste passes continually from the body through an opening, or stoma, into a bag that sticks onto your stomach.
The J-pouch, leaves part of the intestine and anal canal. The doctor connects the intestine and anal canal so the patient can have normal bowel movements. The J pouch fails 5 to 15 percent of the time and some patients are not good candidates for the procedure.
Continent ileostomy removes the diseased colon and rectum but create an internal pouch. The surgeon uses part of the intestine to create a valve, which prevents waste or gas from exiting the stoma until you insert a catheter.
Surgeons have been performing continent ileostomy since the 1970s. The Kock pouch was the original continent ileostomy; it has undergone a number of modifications to improve outcomes in the years since its invention. One such improvement is the Barnett pouch, otherwise known as the Barnett Continent Intestinal Reservoir (BCIR), which reduces complications associated with the Kock pouch.
Colitis treatment depends largely on the age and overall health of the patient, the extent of the disease and other factors. If you have colitis, talk with your doctor to learn which colitis treatment might be right for you.