Infliximab or cyclosporine for acute severe ulcerative colitis:: A retrospective analysis

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Background and Aim:|

Medical treatment of steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis (UC) is limited to either cyclosporine or infliximab. Studies comparing cyclosporine with either placebo or intravenous methylprednisone showed promise for cyclosporine, but associated it with significant toxicity. There is conflicting, but increasingly positive evidence for using infliximab. There are no studies directly comparing these two treatments. Our aim was to compare the outcomes of patients with steroid-refractory UC treated with either intravenous cyclosporine or infliximab.


We carried out a retrospective review of inpatients with steroid-refractory UC, treated with either intravenous cyclosporine or infliximab, at Waitemata District Health Board, between January 2001 and February 2010. The primary end-points were time to colectomy, and colectomy rates at 3 and 12 months. Secondary end-points were time to discharge from initiation of treatment, steroid dependence at 12 months, and reported adverse events.


The total study population was 38, with 19 in the infliximab group. Follow up to 12 months was complete in all patients. At 3 months, the colectomy rate was 63% for cyclosporine, compared to 21% (P = 0.0094). By 12 months the rate was 68% and 37% for cyclosporine and infliximab, respectively (P = 0.06). Patients in the cyclosporine group required an additional 5 days in hospital (P = 0.0086). Steroid dependence at 12 months was 50% for cyclosporine versus 25% for infliximab (P = 0.36). Cyclosporine caused more adverse events (P = 0.17).


Infliximab improved clinical outcomes compared to the previous use of intravenous cyclosporine in patients admitted with steroid-refractory acute severe UC.

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