Introduction: What are guidelines?

When treating their patients, physicians want to use the best tests to give them the information they need about the disease, and the most effective treatments that are available. This often means making choices from many possible alternatives, including new medical products that are constantly being developed.

To help doctors to make the best choices, large medical organizations publish treatment guidelines for many diseases. These guidelines recommend the most appropriate tests and treatments to use for a particular condition, based on clinical research and the advice of leading experts on that disease.

While doctors often follow guidelines closely, they can also make different choices, based on their own judgement and medical experience, as well as the patient’s own preferences. A good doctor will know what the guidelines say, and will have sound reasons for making choices that they do not include. For example, a doctor may prescribe a new medication that was not available when the guidelines were last updated. Updating guidelines is a big job, and there may be several years between updates.

Guidelines for ulcerative colitis

Guidelines for ulcerative colitis are published by the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG). The most recent version was published in 2010. The guidelines cover diagnosis and assessment, medical treatment, surgery and cancer surveillance.