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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Volume 29 (2015), Issue 6, Pages 327-333

Characterization of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Elderly Patients: A Review of Epidemiology, Current Practices and Outcomes of Current Management Strategies

Peter Stepaniuk,1 Charles N Bernstein,1,2 Laura E Targownik,1,2 and Harminder Singh1,2,3

1Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
2University of Manitoba IBD Clinical and Research Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
3Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Received 3 February 2015; Accepted 13 March 2015

Copyright © 2015 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The authors review and summarize the current literature regarding the epidemiology, clinical presentation and management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in elderly patients.

Among elderly patients, the incidence of ulcerative colitis (UC) is higher than that of Crohn disease (CD). Elderly patients with a new diagnosis of UC are more likely to be male and have left-sided colitis. Elderly patients with a new diagnosis of CD are more likely to be female and have colonic disease. Conversely, increasing age at diagnosis has been associated with a lower likelihood of having any of a family history of IBD, perianal disease in CD and extraintestinal manifestations. Although response to drug therapies appears to be similar in elderly patients and younger individuals, the elderly are more likely to receive 5-aminosalicylic acid agents, and less likely to receive immunomodulators and biologics. Corticosteroid use in the elderly is comparable with use in younger individuals. The rates of surgical intervention appear to be lower for elderly CD patients but not elderly UC patients. Elderly individuals with UC are more likely to need urgent colectomy, which is associated with an increased mortality rate. Elective surgery is associated with similar outcomes among the elderly and young patients with IBD. Therefore, the use of immunomodulators and biologics, and earlier consideration of elective surgery for medically refractory disease in elderly patients with IBD, should be emphasized and further evaluated to prevent complications of chronic corticosteroid(s) use and to prevent emergency surgery.