The therapy of inflammatory bowel diseases is based on 5-aminosalicylates (5-ASAs) that are the forefront of treatment of mild-to-moderate active disease and maintenance; steroids are used for the treatment of moderate-to-severe active disease; immunosuppressives and sometimes antibiotics in moderate-to-severe disease; maintenance and for the treatment of selected complications. The last few years have witnessed a significant change in the treatment of Crohn's disease. Based on evidence from new clinical studies and recent meta-analyses, the role of and indications for conventional therapy have been reassessed. The 5-ASAs are nowadays less frequently used in both active disease and maintenance therapy. Instead, budesonide has been introduced in the treatment of mild-to-moderate ileal disease. Besides the modest use of 5-ASAs, steroids are prescribed for active colonic disease. Immunosuppressives, especially azathioprine, are more commonly used in moderate-to-severe disease as well as in maintenance. The preferred maintenance regimen following medically- and surgically-induced remission, in addition to relationship between medical and surgical therapies, has also changed. The recent introduction of new "biological" therapy represents a major, promising change in the therapy of resistant and penetrating disease.
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