Target Audience (click to view)
This activity is designed to meet the needs of physicians.
Learning Objectives(click to view)
Upon completion of the educational activity, participants should be able to:
- Review the findings—and their implications—of a retrospective study that assessed whether or not patients with advanced ulcerative colitis have better survival following elective colectomy or medical therapy.
Method of Participation(click to view)
Statements of credit will be awarded based on the participant reviewing monograph, correctly answer 2 out of 3 questions on the post test, completing and submitting an activity evaluation. A statement of credit will be available upon completion of an online evaluation/claimed credit form at www.akhcme.com/pwJuly03. You must participate in the entire activity to receive credit. If you have questions about this CME/CE activity, please contact AKH Inc. at email@example.com.
Credit Available(click to view)
CME Credit Provided by AKH Inc., Advancing Knowledge in Healthcare
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of AKH Inc., Advancing Knowledge in Healthcare and Physician’s Weekly’s. AKH Inc., Advancing Knowledge in Healthcare is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
AKH Inc., Advancing Knowledge in Healthcare designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Commercial Support(click to view)
There is no commercial support for this activity.
Disclosures(click to view)
It is the policy of AKH Inc. to ensure independence, balance, objectivity, scientific rigor, and integrity in all of its continuing education activities. The author must disclose to the participants any significant relationships with commercial interests whose products or devices may be mentioned in the activity or with the commercial supporter of this continuing education activity. Identified conflicts of interest are resolved by AKH prior to accreditation of the activity and may include any of or combination of the following: attestation to non-commercial content; notification of independent and certified CME/CE expectations; referral to National Author Initiative training; restriction of topic area or content; restriction to discussion of science only; amendment of content to eliminate discussion of device or technique; use of other author for discussion of recommendations; independent review against criteria ensuring evidence support recommendation; moderator review; and peer review.
Disclosure of Unlabeled Use & Investigational Product(click to view)
This educational activity may include discussion of uses of agents that are investigational and/or unapproved by the FDA. Please refer to the official prescribing information for each product for discussion of approved indications, contraindications, and warnings.
Disclaimer(click to view)
This course is designed solely to provide the healthcare professional with information to assist in his/her practice and professional development and is not to be considered a diagnostic tool to replace professional advice or treatment. The course serves as a general guide to the healthcare professional, and therefore, cannot be considered as giving legal, nursing, medical, or other professional advice in specific cases. AKH Inc. specifically disclaim responsibility for any adverse consequences resulting directly or indirectly from information in the course, for undetected error, or through participant’s misunderstanding of the content.
Faculty & Credentials(click to view)
Discloses no financial relationships with pharmaceutical or medical product manufacturers.
Meenakshi Bewtra, MD, MPH, PhD
AKH and PHYSICIAN WEEKLY’S STAFF/REVIEWERS
Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN- CE Director of Accreditation
Discloses no financial relationships with pharmaceutical or medical product manufacturers.
AKH planners and reviewers have no relevant financial relationships to disclose.
Complete the Post Test(click to view)
According to data from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects up to 700,000 Americans. Current medications that are used for UC—which often include corticosteroids or long-term immunosuppressant therapy—do not lead to remission for all patients, and relapse rates are high even among those who achieve remission using medical therapies.
“While medical therapy is generally safe for people with UC, only about one-third of patients experience a long-term response to medications,” explains Meenakshi Bewtra, MD, MPH, PhD. Patients also must endure a trial-and-error approach until they find a medication that works for them, which can severely impact quality of life (QOL). In addition, some UC medications come with higher risks of serious side effects.
As an alternative to medical therapy, patients with UC can undergo elective colectomy, a surgery which involves performing a total proctocolectomy with ileostomy and, in many cases, restorative ileal pouch anal anastomosis. “Surgery has always been an option for patients with UC, but it is often viewed as a last resort,” says Dr. Bewtra. Research shows that elective colectomy is associated with low morbidity and mortality, but it may also alter patients’ QOL following the procedure.
QOL, morbidity, and mortality are important factors that drive treatment decisions for patients with UC and their physicians. Dr. Bewtra and colleagues had a retrospective study published in Annals of Internal Medicine that looked at whether or not patients with advanced UC had better survival by undergoing elective colectomy or by being treated with medical therapy. “It’s important to clarify if elective surgery for UC can improve survival,” says Dr. Bewtra.
For the study, the research team used national Medicare and Medicaid data to examine whether patients with advanced UC who pursued elective colectomy had improved survival when they were compared with similar patients who elected to use chronic medical therapy. The investigators followed 830 patients who had elective colectomy matched to 7,541 patients who took medications to manage advanced UC. The primary outcome was time to death, and all operations were performed between 2000 and 2011.
Surgery Trumps Medications
According to the results, the mortality rate associated with elective surgery was significantly lower than that of patients who received medical therapy (Table). Elective colectomy was associated with improved survival when compared with long-term medical therapy (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.67).
“Importantly, our analysis showed that the survival benefit from elective colectomy was greatest for those aged 50 and older who had advanced disease,” Dr. Bewtra says. “It is often assumed that older patients have an increased risk of death as a result of complications from surgery, but this did not appear to be the case.” Over 5 years, surgery was linked to a 33% reduced risk of death when compared with medical therapy.
Analyzing the Implications
Findings from study have important implications for both patients and providers with regards to informed decision making in UC, according to Dr. Bewtra. “Traditionally, clinicians have assumed that patients with advanced UC will want to avoid colectomy because of concerns about QOL after the procedure,” she says. “This leads many clinicians to not initiate discussions about surgical options in UC or only discuss it when all other medical therapies have failed. Our study suggests that surgery should be considered earlier in the course of the disease rather than seen as a last resort.”
Recent studies have shown that UC patients appear to be willing to accept surgery in order to avoid potential adverse effects of chronic immunosuppressant therapies, especially if these medications are not completely effective in maintaining remission. “The decision to opt for surgery should be made on a case-by-case basis, keeping in mind the wishes of patients,” says Dr. Bewtra. “However, patients should be educated about surgical options earlier in their disease course. They should also be informed that surgery is likely to improve survival and offers the added benefit of avoiding failed medical therapy.” Elective colectomy is typically covered by Medicare and other health plans.
The finding of a survival advantage with elective colectomy in patients aged 50 or older underscores the need for earlier and more informed discussions regarding surgical options in UC. “These conversations are critical to improving shared decision-making,” Dr. Bewtra says. She notes that it may behoove clinicians to refer patients to specialists if there are any questions or concerns about which therapeutic strategy to select. In addition, efforts should be made to discuss the possibility that corticosteroid use or incompletely controlled UC may increase the risk of death.
Readings & Resources (click to view)
Bewtra M, Newcomb CW, Wu Q, et al. Mortality associated with medical therapy versus elective colectomy in ulcerative colitis: a cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Jul 14 [Epub ahead of print]. Available at: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2395724.
Sachar DB. Ulcerative colitis: dead or alive. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Jul 14 [Epub ahead of print].
Lewis JD, Gelfand JM, Troxel AB, et al. Immunosuppressant medications and mortality in inflammatory bowel disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2008;103:1428-1435.
Kaplan GG, Lim A, Seow CH, et al. Colectomy is a risk factor for venous thromboembolism in ulcerative colitis. World J Gastroenterol. 2015;21:1251-1260.