Treatment of ulcerative colitis in the elderly: A systematic review

Brooke R. Baggenstos, Brian J Hanson, Aasma Shaukat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Ulcerative colitis (UC) is increasingly recognized as a disease affecting the elderly. Approximately 10%-30% of the UC population is over the age of 60 years. Additionally, younger patients with UC are aging and thus comprise a second group of elderly IBD patients. To date, there have been no clinical trials that have evaluated treatment efficacy of UC in the elderly population. The aim of our study was to conduct a systematic review of all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) addressing treatment outcome in UC; we also sought to identify the elderly population, defined as age 60 years or older, represented in these studies, to see if pooled data would lead to meaningful conclusions regarding treatment efficacy and safety profile in the elderly. A search of the MEDLINE database via PubMed and the EMBASE database via Scopus was performed to identify all RCTs evaluating medical therapy for UC in humans, published within the English language through September 2012. Studies were grouped into three categories: biological agent (BA) therapy; immunosuppressant (IS) therapy; and 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) therapy. To estimate the number of elderly patients in each study, mean age plus 1 and 2 standard deviations (SD) was calculated to find the closest approximation to age 60. Of 876 studies, 112 RCTs were included in the final analysis-20 studies for BA, 20 for IS, and 72 for 5-ASA agents. While nearly all studies reported either a mean or median age, only 38% additionally reported the SD and age range. The mean composite age was 39.2 years for the BA studies, 38.5 years for the IS studies, and 42.8 years for the 5-ASA studies, consistent with a young middle-aged patient. We estimated that no more than 16% of patients per study would have qualified as elderly, and in most cases a much smaller percentage (,8%). Additionally, there were no BA or IS RCTs that reported results by age subgroup analysis. Four studies in the 5-ASA group report age-specific analyses and showed no difference in treatment efficacy by age. None of the 112 RCTs reported age sub-analyses of safety, tolerability, adverse events, or withdrawal rates. There is insufficient evidence to evaluate efficacy of treatment and adverse events from treatment for UC in the elderly. With the rising number of elderly patients with UC, there is a need for more clinical trials that specifically address UC treatment in this unique population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Medicine Insights: Geriatrics
StatePublished - 2013


  • Elderly
  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Safety
  • Treatment
  • UC (ulcerative colitis)


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