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Bowel urgency, the sudden and immediate need to have a bowel movement, is one of the most widely reported and debilitating symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Urgency has a profound impact on patient well-being, often resulting in patient disengagement from education, employment, and social activities. Although its prevalence correlates with disease activity, it is present in states of both disease flare and remission. Postulated pathophysiologic mechanisms are complex, but urgency is likely a consequence of both acute inflammation and structural sequelae of chronic inflammation. Bowel urgency is not widely incorporated into clinical assessment indices or clinical trial endpoints, despite being a pivotal symptom influencing patient health-related quality of life. Addressing urgency can be challenging owing to the associated embarrassment for patients in volunteering this symptom, and its management can be nuanced in the context of a paucity of specific evidence to target it, independently of disease activity. Explicitly inquiring about urgency and integrating it into a multidisciplinary team combining gastroenterologists, psychological support, and continence services is essential to achieving shared satisfaction from treatment. This article outlines the prevalence of urgency and its impact on the quality of life of patients, describes postulated driving mechanisms, and makes recommendations for its inclusion in clinical care and research.


Journal article


Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y)

Publication Date





95 - 100


Urgency, epidemiology, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis