What Surgery Can Do for Your Crohn's

Crohn's patients have a range of treatment options available. They vary depending on the patient's disease progression and circumstances. Approximately two-thirds to three-quarters of people with Crohn's disease will eventually require surgery.

When you no longer respond to medication therapy, or other treatments are not providing the relief you need, it may be time to consider surgery.

Crohn's patients often enjoy a period of remission following surgery. However, surgery is not a permanent cure, and for many, it's not a one-time treatment. Most patients will require surgery again. Frequently when the disease recurs, it's near the site of the original surgery.

Here are the primary types of Crohn's surgeries.

Resectional surgery. Resectional surgery is frequently used for patients who have ileocolic disease, the most common disease pattern in Crohn's. In resectional surgery, the diseased portion of the digestive tract is removed and the new ends reconnected. Removing diseased tissue may also improve your body's ability to absorb important nutrients from the food you eat, improving your overall health.

Today, surgeons can use laprascopic surgery techniques. Instead of making one large abdominal incision, your surgeon makes several smaller incisions in which to insert surgical tools. Patients who have laproscopy heal faster from surgery and have shorter hospital stays.

Colectomy. During a colectomy, your surgeon will completely remove your colon. Since the colon is responsible for eliminating waste, your body needs an alternative way to perform this function. Your surgeon does this by connecting the end of the small intestine, where the colon was removed, to the skin on your abdomen wall, and then creates a hole called a stoma. Outside the stoma, you would wear a hidden pouch under your clothes to collect your body's waste, which you empty as needed. Patients who've had colectomies live relatively normal lives.

Strictureplasty. Strictureplasty is also a common form of surgery for Crohn's and an alternative to the resectional procedure described above. Instead of removing the damaged portion of the intestine, your surgeon widens the portion of the intestine that has narrowed due to disease, keeping the intestine largely intact.

Usually surgery for Crohn's disease is planned based on patients' needs. However, complications such as a blockage of the bowel, perforation of the intestine or heavy bleeding may require emergency surgery.

Not all Crohn's patients will require surgery. Discuss this option with your physician and together you can decide if, and when, it is appropriate.

 


 

Sources:

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)
Crohn's Disease
http://www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/crohns/index.htm#treatment

Mayo Clinic
Crohn's Disease
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/crohns-disease/DS00104/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs

Postoperative Crohn's Disease Recurrence: A Practical Approach
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18810773?ordinalpos=18&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Physician's Weekly
http://www.physiciansweekly.com/