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Are steroids used too much for patients with inflammatory bowel disease?

October 09, 2019

Steroid therapy is commonly used to treat acute attacks of the inflammatory bowel diseases ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease; however, because it does not provide long-term benefits and it carries a risk of serious side effects, it should not be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease for more than three months. In a large study published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, researchers at 19 centres in the UK report that, among 2,385 patients with inflammatory bowel disease, 14.8% showed evidence of steroid excess or dependency, and the steroid excess was judged avoidable in over 50% of cases.

The seven centres that had participated in a quality improvement programme had significantly fewer patients (11.5% versus 17.1%) receiving excess steroids.

"Looking at steroid prescribing for inflammatory bowel disease and trying to reduce steroid excess can be a powerful way to improve patient care and outcomes," said lead author Christian P. Selinger, MD, MSc, MRCP, of St. James University Hospital.
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Wiley

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