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Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a lifelong disease process that often presents in childhood. The initial work up, diagnosis and management are critical to the disease process, quality of life and the disease progression for the pediatric patient. The pediatric surgeon is an essential team member in the diagnosis and management of children with UC and can provide treatment options in addition to helping with complications as they arise.
What is different about ulcerative colitis in children?
Twenty to 25% of patients affected by UC present in childhood . UC is often a more severe disease process in children and many present with pancolitis leading to a higher percentage requiring colectomy . While most children present with typical symptoms of abdominal pain and rectal bleeding, it is important for clinicians to recognize atypical symptoms such as growth failure and anorexia . The disease presentation was once thought to correlate with the clinical outcome for ulcerative colitis but in young children even a severe disease onset can lead to a mild disease course . UC can affect the linear growth and physiologic health of a child as well as social and emotional development. Children who have UC may miss school and social activities and are prone to behavioral disturbances and depression .
Content in this topic is referenced in SCORE Inflammatory Bowel Disease overview