Defining Failure of Medical Therapy for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Volk N1, Siegel CA1. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2018 Jul 16. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izy238. [Epub ahead of print]

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1 Dartmouth-Hitchcock Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire.


Over the past 2 decades, advances in biologic and small molecule therapeutics have resulted in a rapid increase in our armamentarium of therapies for inflammatory bowel disease. Despite these advancements, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis remain chronic and progressive diseases. One of the primary reasons for persistent inflammation and bowel damage is failure of medical therapy. With growing therapeutic options, there is an increased temptation to quickly move to the next therapy and label the prior therapy as a failure; however, this can lead to inadequate optimization of medications and poor control of disease. On the other hand, failure to recognize ongoing mucosal inflammation despite optimized treatment and moving to the next agent can lead to progression of disease and long-term complications. As our options for medical therapy continue to increase, it has become more important to recognize failure of therapy in order to promptly move to the next therapeutic agent without abandoning therapies prematurely. In this review, we aim to define failure of medical therapy for inflammatory bowel disease with the goal of offering guidance on when it is appropriate to attempt optimization of current medical treatment as opposed to moving on to the next agent or treatment approach.

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