Ulcerative Colitis

About a third of IBD in kids, incidence stable unlike Crohn’s.

Associated with autoimmune disease especially sclerosing cholangitis.
80% kids have pancolitis (cf 20% adults), otherwise proctitis alone or
other local disease.

Acute Severe Colitis

“About saving lives, not saving colons”.

15% severe at presentation, 28% have at some point in childhood.

The first attack of colitis tends to be more severe and disease more
extensive in children than in adults. Many respond to conventional
medical therapy but 8-30% at 1 year will have undergone colectomy for
failed medical treatment (depending on disease severity).

Acute severe colitis is characterised by greater than 6 bloody stools
per day, abdominal tenderness, fever, anaemia, leucocytosis, and
hypoalbuminaemia. This is a typical presentation of ulcerative colitis
or may occur as an exacerbation, but the differential includes:

  • Infectious colitis eg Shigella, E. coli O157
  • Crohn’s colitis
  • pseudomembranous colitis
  • ischaemic colitis

Equivalent to PUCAI >65. Moderate colitis 35-60.  Day 3 PUCAI already predictive of future colectomy, second line therapy.

Clostridioides prev Clostridium difficile- less in kids than adults.  Intermittent shedding so multiple samples required.

CMV colitis – not always immunosuppressed.  But no evidence for treatment or prophylaxis…

1-1.5mg/kg max 60mg IVMP.  If toxic or colonic dilatation then NBM, antibiotics, surgical opinion.

Day 3 under 35 PUCAI can consider oral steroids (120% IV dose).  Over 45 refer tertiary centre, screen for second line therapy, start involving surgeons/stoma therapist, sigmoidoscopy (safer than full colonscopy), check HBV/HCV/TB for starting ANti TNF Rx.

Day 5 over 65 start second line (infliximab).  “Sponge, sieve, shark”.  Dose, timing?  Sponge soaks up Abs.  Shark is immune system removing Ab.  Sieve – leaking Ab?  Not much evidence yet!

No response at day 11 consider colectomy.

Alternative second Rx are ciclosporin, tacrolimus.

Toxic megacolon – pain, distension.  Signs less if already on steroids.  Amp, gent, metro.  40mm under 10, 56mm otherwise.

Thrombosis – recognized risk of stroke.  Consider 3+/12 treatment prophylaxis eg OCP, FH

No evidence for bowel rest!

Number of stools can be over estimated if very close episodes. Some may conceal or underestimate number/blood.


  • FBC, coag
  • Group and save – consider Cross match esp if possibly for surgery
  • CRP, ESR
  • U&Es, LFTs, Ca – hypokalaemia can precipitate toxic megacolon
  • Blood culture, stool cultures, stool microscopy, C diff toxin
  • CMV serology if immunocompromised
  • AXR – toxic megacolon = 5.5cm+ dilatation

These also used for monitoring, in addition to PUCAI score, a clinical score:

  • abdominal pain (can be ignored or not),
  • rectal bleeding (some stools, most stools, more blood than stool),
  • stool consistency and frequency,
  • nocturnal stooling,
  • activity level (limitation or not).

Under 10 normal, 10-30 mild, 30-60 moderate.  Best averaged over 2 days unless rapidly changing clinically.

Endoscopy is not considered first line investigation given risk of
performation. Limited sigmoidoscopy may give useful information


  • Fluids and nutrition
  • Blood transfusion, esp if Hb<8 or <10 and symptomatic
  • Consider antibiotics (IV Cef and met) if high risk of infection or pre-surgery
  • Stop aminosalicylates until improving
  • Steroids – Hydrocortisone 10mg/kg in 4 divided doses, max 400mg/d else Methylprednisolone 1mg/kg, max 60mg. Do not delay pending microbiology!
  • TED stockings, LMWH
  • Surgical review

Joint medical/surgical care is appropriate. If surgery is likely to be
needed, a stoma nurse would be useful. PUCAI >45 on day 3 suggests
failure to respond (30-70%, depending on severity). Cyclosporin and
Infliximab are second line.


Azathioprine and 6MP are useful for maintenance, less useful acutely
given delayed onset of action. TPMT deficiency predicts myelotoxicity
(use lower doses). 6MP has less side effects (nausea, vomiting,
headache, fatigue). prob best for younger kids.

Sulphasal liquid, various granule products for older kids.

Mesalazine enemas good but low acceptability.

[Richard Hansen 2016]