1Section of Gastroenterology, The University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.
Many therapeutic options are available for patients with distal forms of ulcerative colitis (UC). Rectal therapies (e.g., suppositories, foams, gels, and enemas) may be recommended either alone or in combination with oral treatment. Compared with oral therapies, rectal therapies are underused in patients with distal forms of UC, although rectal therapies have favorable efficacy and safety profiles.
This systematic review identified 48 articles for inclusion after a comprehensive PubMed search and the identification of additional relevant articles through other sources. Inclusion criteria were clinical studies examining efficacy and safety of 5-aminosalicylic acid, corticosteroid, and non-5-aminosalicylic acid rectal therapies (suppositories, foams, gels, and enemas) that induce or maintain remission in patients with ulcerative proctitis, ulcerative proctosigmoiditis, or left-sided colitis (i.e., distal forms of UC). The quality of the evidence presented was evaluated using the GRADE system.
Overall, a greater percentage of patients with distal forms of UC receiving 5-aminosalicylic acids or corticosteroid rectal formulations derived greater therapeutic benefit after treatment compared with patients receiving placebo. Furthermore, most uncontrolled studies of rectal therapies reported that patients with distal forms of UC had marked improvement from baseline after treatment. The overall safety profile of rectal therapies was favorable. Treatment with second-generation corticosteroids, such as budesonide and beclomethasone dipropionate, did not increase the incidence of steroid-related adverse effects.
The current literature supports the use of rectal therapies for both induction and maintenance of remission in patients with distal forms of UC.