Ulcerative Colitis

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Gastroenterology experts at the Houston Methodist Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders offer the latest and most comprehensive treatment options to diagnose and treat ulcerative colitis.


Ulcerative colitis is among the most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is a form of chronic inflammation in the large intestine of the digestive tract causing abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and diarrhea.


Currently, the causes of ulcerative colitis are unknown. Risk factors include genetics and environmental factors such as diet, antibiotic exposures and gastrointestinal infections. Ulcerative colitis is typically diagnosed in a patient’s mid-30s.


Gastroenterology specialists at the Underwood Center will investigate a range of factors when diagnosing this complex condition, considering both your immune system and the functionality of your digestive tract.

Nationally Ranked Digestive Treatment

Houston Methodist Hospital is ranked No. 5 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery. U.S. News & World Report has also named Houston Methodist Hospital the No. 1 hospital in Texas every year since the award began and one of the nation’s best as a nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital. Our gastroenterologists are nationally and internationally known for their compassionate approach to patients, research, diagnoses and treatment.

Diagnosing Ulcerative Colitis

The Underwood Center has several tests available to assist in the evaluation of ulcerative colitis; however, tissue biopsies are necessary to make a definitive diagnosis:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Intestinal ultrasound
  • Stool analysis
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Laboratory testing (inflammatory markers in the blood) 

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms & Treatment

What are the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis?

Consult your doctor if any of the following symptoms persist:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping 
  • Bloody stool
  • Loose bowel movements
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Bowel Urgency
  • Weight loss

How is ulcerative colitis treated?

We offer the latest and most comprehensive treatment options to diagnose and address your specific condition. Medications are used to treat the inflammation resulting from ulcerative colitis.

  • Aminosalicylates – drugs that control inflammation in the digestive tract, such as 5-aminosalicyclic acid and sulfasalazine
  • Corticosteroids – steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as prednisone, methylprednisolone and hydrocortisone
  • Immunomodulators – drugs that selectively target immune function, such as azathioprine and 6-mercapto-purine [6-MP]
  • Biologics – injections or intravenous or medications that target and block specific inflammatory signals produced by the immune system that cause inflammation in the colon
  • Small molecules – oral medications that target and block inflammatory signals produced by the immune system that cause inflammation in the colon
  • J-pouch surgery – performed in severe cases of ulcerative colitis where removal of the colon and rectum is necessary. The J-pouch is a small pouch formed from the end of the small intestine into a “J” shape where stool can wait until it is time for a bowel movement. This intestinal J-pouch can not only store stool until it is time for a bowel movement, but it allows you some control over the timing of the bowel movement. While the rectum is removed during the J-pouch procedure, the J-pouch is in essence a surgically created rectum, allowing stool to continue to pass through the anus.

What if I am looking for advanced care or a second opinion?

We understand the concerns that come with the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. Whether you are looking for a diagnosis or a second opinion, we’re here to help. Houston Methodist’s compassionate team of gastroenterologists will diagnose your condition and design a personalized treatment plan that works for you and your family.

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