Ulcerative Colitis

Treatment for ulcerative colitis varies depending on the seriousness of the disease. Most people need long-term medication to relieve symptoms and control the problems. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the diseased colon, which cures the disease.

Medications and Nutritional Therapies

Medications for ulcerative colitis may improve your child's quality of life by inducing and maintaining remission, or at least provide symptom-free periods. The four most commonly prescribed types of medications — aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunomodulators and biologic medicines — all work by reducing inflammation. Newer medications, such as biologics, are under investigation to see if they help children with ulcerative colitis.

Nutritional therapies are mainly used to supplement the diet and medications, and are not effective alone.


Most children who don't respond to medication will get relief from a surgical procedure known as an ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA). During the procedure, the surgeon removes the colon and the inner lining of the rectum, leaving the rectum's outer muscle in place. The end of the small intestine, called the ileum, is then pulled through the rectum and attached to the anus. After the procedure, children can pass stool normally, although bowel movements may be more frequent and watery.

Depending on the individual case, the UCSF pediatric surgeon may be able to perform the procedure laparoscopically, using tiny instruments and small, Band-Aid-size incisions. Patients who undergo laparoscopic procedures have less pain, a quicker recovery and a shorter hospital stay.


One focus of the UCSF IBD team is to find new and sometimes experimental ways to improve the management and long-term outcomes of our patients, often through multinational research projects. Patients may have the option of participating in research trials of new therapies for IBD.

We also track the progress of almost all our patients to help improve the treatment options and information we can offer future patients.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Gastroenterology & Nutritional Disorders

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2813
Urgent Appointment Requests:: (415) 353-1235
Fax: (415) 476-1343
Appointment information

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