Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a type of chronic, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that occurs in the colon with symptoms developing slowly over time. It stems from an inflammation of the colon lining where small, open sores form and produce mucous and pus. This irritation of the lining of the large intestine, or colon, eventually results in persistent abdominal discomfort and diarrhea and sometimes can cause life-threatening complications.

Ulcerative colitis is classified based on its location within the colon. The mildest form of the disease is called ulcerative proctitis and is found in the area of the colon closest to the rectum. Another form of the disease, proctosigmoiditis, occurs in the sigmoid colon, or the area around the rectum and lower end of the colon. If the inflammation expands from the rectum to the upper left stomach area, it is diagnosed as left-sided colitis. Pancolitis extends beyond the left side of the colon and can affect the entire colon, causing more severe and constant symptoms. The most rare and potentially life-threatening type of ulcerative colitis is fulminant colitis, which can lead to a rupture or rapid expansion of the colon. There is no known cure for ulcerative colitis, and treatments usually focus on suppressing symptoms and potentially inducing a long-term remission of the disease. 


UAB Medicine is known worldwide as a leading center for digestive and liver disorders. Our gastroenterology and gastrointestinal (GI) surgery program is consistently recognized for excellence by U.S. News & World Report. We see more than 20,000 patients and perform more than 12,000 outpatient procedures each year.

UAB has a notable history in this medical specialty. Basil Hirschowitz, MD – who founded our program more than 50 years ago – was the inventor of the endoscope, a tubular, flexible instrument equipped with a tiny camera that is used to look deep inside the body. His invention revolutionized gastroenterology and GI surgery care. Our interventional endoscopy group, which includes endoscopic ultrasound technology, is one of the busiest in the country and has grown to become one of the most respected programs of its kind.

UAB continues to lead the advancement of gastroenterology with many active research trials that offer the latest in drug therapy and treatment for digestive disorders. Our physicians and scientists are searching for causes and cures for many illnesses through basic research, including studies of the bacteria that inhabit our intestines and affect our health.

UAB Medicine operates the Digestive Health Center, which combines gastroenterology care, GI surgery, and a broad range of advanced diagnostic and supportive services in a single, convenient location for our patients. The center features specialists in gastroenterology and hepatology, colorectal surgery, transplant surgery, and nutrition, all of whom work together to form a diverse team of digestive health experts. The Digestive Health Center provides a fully integrated model of care that optimizes the patient experience and offers the absolute latest in testing, technology, and treatment.





UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for Ulcerative Colitis. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials