Drug therapy is the first line treatment for UC. The primary goal of drug therapy is to reduce the inflammation in the intestine and the accompanying symptoms. There are three main classes of drugs that your doctor may use depending on the severity of your symptoms.
- Aminosalicylates (aspirin-like medications)
- Immunosuppressant drugs
While drug therapy may improve the quality of life for some patients with UC, it is important to realize that these medications will not cure UC. Surgery is the only way to cure the disease.
The surgical procedure to cure UC is called a proctocolectomy, and involves removing the entire colon and rectum. The main job of the rectum is to store stool before bowel movements. Since the rectum is removed with this operation, a pouch is constructed out of the small bowel to collect waste. The pouch is connected to the anus and allows the patient to pass bowel movements normally through the anus. A temporary abdominal opening (ileostomy) is usually required, to allow the pouch to heal before it is used. The opening is typically closed up in a second, smaller operation a few months later, so that patients do not need a permanent ileostomy (bag).