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12.07.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 10/2018

International Journal of Colorectal Disease 10/2018

Timing of surgery in ulcerative colitis in the biologic therapy era—the patient’s perspective

International Journal of Colorectal Disease > Ausgabe 10/2018
Jörn Gröne, Eva-Maria Lorenz, Claudia Seifarth, Hendrik Seeliger, Martin E. Kreis, Mario H. Mueller



There is no general consensus regarding the ideal timing of surgery in patients with refractory ulcerative colitis (UC). Decision-making and timing of restorative proctocolectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA) is influenced by treating physicians and patients themselves. The aim of this study was to determine whether or not patients would have preferred the operation to be performed earlier, at the same time, or at a later point of time and to determine the reasons for their preference.


Clinical data of 193 patients with UC who have undergone IPAA were documented in a prospective database at our institution between 2004 and 2015. From this database, 190 patients were identified and a standardized custom-made questionnaire was mailed for follow-up survey. Patients who did not respond were called by telephone and encouraged to complete the questionnaire.


One hundred nine questionnaires were eligible for analysis (57.4%). Average time between diagnosis and surgery was 11.2 ± 10.8 years (mean ± SD). Indications for surgery were refractory disease (70.6%), colitis-associated colorectal cancer (11.0%), high-grade dysplasia or stenosis (11.9%), and septic complications of UC (6.4%); 39 of 77 patients (50.6%) with refractory UC reported to have preferred their operation to be carried out earlier as it was actually performed (16.8 ± 11.9 months). Refractory course of the disease was identified as a predictor for a retrospectively desired earlier surgical approach (p = 0.014).


A substantial proportion of patients felt that they should have undergone surgery earlier than actually performed. It appears that timing of the decision to undergo surgery is suboptimal. This situation may be improved by earlier surgical consultation in the course of the disease.

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