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Background:

Oral and topical mesalazine formulations are effective in active ulcerative colitis, but little is known on the efficacy of combined treatment.

Aim:

To compare the efficacy of oral mesalazine vs. combined oral and topical mesalazine in mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis.

Methods:

Patients with mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis (Clinical Activity Index, CAI 4–12) were identified at 15 participating centres. They were randomized to receive either mesalazine 4 g orally plus placebo enema, or mesalazine 2 g orally plus mesalazine 2 g rectally as a liquid enema for 6 weeks. The rate of clinical remission (CAI < 4) or clinical remission/improvement (reduction of CAI of 50% from baseline) at 6 weeks and time to clinical remission/improvement were primary end-points; the rate of endoscopic remission was a secondary end-point.

Results:

67 patients were assigned to oral treatment and 63 to combined treatment. One patient in the oral group and 2 in the combined group discontinued the treatment due to adverse events. Following an intention-to-treat analysis, the rate of clinical remission was 82% for oral treatment and 87% for combined treatment (P=0.56); the mean time to remission 22.2 and 20.2 days, respectively (P=0.29); the rate of clinical remission/improvement and the rate of endoscopic remission were 85% and 91% (P=0.503) and 58% and 71% (P=0.21), respectively.

Conclusions:

In patients with mild active ulcerative colitis, mesalazine 4 g orally and 2 g orally plus 2 g enema are equally effective in inducing disease remission.