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Ulcerative Colitis Infusion Therapy

Infusion therapy is a treatment approach for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease that involves administering medications intravenously (IV) or through infusion by needle or catheter. This method allows for the direct delivery of medications into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system. Infusion therapy is typically reserved for moderate to severe disease. It is reserved for certain medications that cannot be taken orally or when a more immediate and potent effect is required. Infusion therapy can take 30 minutes to a few hours per treatment in a clinic or a hospital.

Typically induction therapy is used to get the patient into remission quickly by reducing inflammation often for multiple weeks, e.g. infusion at 0, 2 and 6 weeks, to establish therapeutic levels of the medication followed by a maintenance regime every 8 weeks.  The therapeutic effects typically last for weeks to months. Importantly, these drugs are not cures. They suppress the inflammation and require maintenance doses.

Some commonly used infusion therapies include:

Biologic medications: Biologics are a class of medications that target specific molecules involved in the immune system’s inflammatory response. Biologics have revolutionized the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. They are administered through infusion.

Examples include:

  • Infliximab (Remicadeâ): This anti-TNF (tumor necrosis factor) biologic is given as an intravenous infusion over a period of time, typically in a medical setting. It can help reduce inflammation and induce and maintain remission in moderate to severe cases. Studies report that this is a very effective treatment option.
  • Vedolizumab (Entyvioâ): This biologic medication targets the α4β7 integrin protein involved in immune cell migration. It is given as an intravenous infusion and is specifically approved for the treatment of moderate to severe cases. Studies report that this is a very effective treatment option for symptom remission.

Other intravenous medications: In some cases, other medications may be administered through intravenous infusion to manage the symptoms of severe inflammatory bowel diseases or induce remission. For example, corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone or hydrocortisone may be given intravenously during acute flare-ups to rapidly reduce inflammation.

Infusion therapy is usually conducted in a medical facility, such as a hospital or infusion center, under the supervision of healthcare professionals. The frequency and duration of infusion sessions depend on the specific medication and the individual’s treatment plan.

Infusion therapy can be considered for individuals with moderate to severe disease who require more intensive treatment or have not responded adequately to other forms of medication. These patients typically need rapid and potent anti-inflammatory medications to induce remission or manage an acute flareup. When these patients have responded well to induction therapy or have a history of frequent disease relapses, they would be considered good candidates.

It’s important to note that infusion therapy has potential side effects and risks, and regular monitoring is necessary during treatment. The specific choice of infusion therapy and treatment plan will be determined by your Rockford Gastroenterology Associates gastroenterologist considering the severity of your condition, response to previous treatments, and overall health.

Contact Rockford Gastroenterology Associates today to learn more about infusion therapy and whether it is a good option for you.

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