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February 1983

The Prognosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, University of Chicago. Dr Sales is currently with Northwest Gastroenterologists, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Arch Intern Med. 1983;143(2):294-299. doi:10.1001/archinte.1983.00350020120022

• The complications of ulcerative colitis generally develop during the first two years of disease. The mortality is higher than expected and the highest likelihood of colectomy also occurs early in the disease. Mortality in Crohn's disease is greater than expected, especially in males. For both conditions, the overall mortality has decresed steadily, and currently is less than 5%. Ulcerative colitis is curable with proctocolectomy and ileostomy. In Crohn's disease, intestinal resection and reanastomosis is followed by recurrence in the majority of patients. The recurrence rate after proctocolectomy and ileostomy for Crohn's disease of the colon also is considerable, ranging from 20% to 35%. In ulcerative colitis, the more colon involved, the more frequent and more serious are the complications. In Crohn's disease, the anatomic pattern of disease tends to predict the type and extent of complications. Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease appear to follow a more severe course in children and adolescents with "inflammatory bowel disease." Patients with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease are at increased risk for the later development of cancer. In ulcerative colitis, the excess risk is limited to colorectal cancer. Patients with Crohn's disease have increased cancer rates for both the small and large bowel. Finally, most patients with these diseases are able to maintain normal occupations and enjoy reasonably stable social and economic situations. The successful adaptation of patients with inflammatory bowel disease is influenced by a hopeful, optimistic personality and by an encouraging, supportive physician.

(Arch Intern Med 1983;143:294-299)