AIM: To determine if infliximab can prevent or delay surgery in refractory ulcerative colitis (UC).METHODS: UC patients who failed to have their disease controlled with conventional therapies and were to undergo colectomy if infliximab failed to induce a clinical improvement were reviewed. Patients were primarily treated with a single 5 mg/kg infliximab dose. The Colitis Activity Index (CAI) was used to determine response and remission. Data of 8 wk response and colectomy rates at 6 mo and 12 mo were collected.RESULTS: Fifteen patients were included, 7 with UC unresponsive or intolerant to IV hydrocortisone, and 8 with active disease despite oral steroids (all but one with therapeutic dosage and duration of immunomodulation). All the IV hydrocortisone-resistant/intolerant patients had been on azathioprine/6-MP < 8 wk. At 8 wk, infliximab induced a response in 86.7% (13/15) with 40% in remission (6/15). Within 6 mo of treatment 26.7% (4/15) had undergone colectomy and surgery was avoided in 46.6% (7/15) at 12 mo. The colectomy rate at 12 mo in those on immunomodulatory therapy < 8 wk at time of infliximab was 12.5% (1/8) compared with 100% (7/7) in patients who were on long-term maintenance immunomodulators (P < 0.02).CONCLUSION: Infliximab prevented colectomy due to active disease in immunomodulatory-naive, refractory UC patients comparable to the use of Cyclosporine. In patients, however, on effective dosage and duration of immunomodulation at time of infliximab therapy colectomy was not avoided. (C) 2008 WJG. All rights reserved.