Aim: To asses the efficacy and safety of ciclosporin in a paediatric population with inflammatory bowel disease. Patients and methods: Twenty-three Italian children treated with ciclosporin were studied retrospectively. The indications for treatment were severe unresponsive colitis, chronic active colitis or severe fistulizing Crohn's disease. The treatment duration, follow-up and causes of drug discontinuation were assessed. Results: Sixteen patients were treated intravenously for a mean time of 10 ± 7 days (1-24 days) and 19 orally for a mean time of 133 days (17-660 days). The mean follow-up of all patients was 13.2 months. Ciclosporin was totally ineffective, being discontinued for surgery, in nine of 23 patients (39%); it was discontinued for partial response in three patients (13%). During treatment, clinical remission was achieved in eight children (35%) and maintained after drug withdrawal in four (17%). In severe unresponsive colitis, urgent colectomy was avoided in 12 (85%) of 14 patients who tolerated the drug. Side-effects appeared in six of 23 patients (26%), and three (13%) required ciclosporin to be discontinued due to neurotoxicity. Conclusions: Ciclosporin shows disappointing long-term results in the treatment of refractory inflammatory bowel disease, but can play an important role in preventing urgent surgery in unresponsive severe colitis. Severe side-effects can occur.
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