Complications of Crohn's Disease

Bowel Obstruction
The most common Crohn's disease complication is blockage of the intestine, known as a bowel obstruction. This complication occurs in up to 30 percent of people with Crohn's disease. A bowel obstruction occurs because the disease tends to thicken the intestinal wall with swelling and scar tissue, narrowing or even blocking the passage.
 
With a narrowed or blocked passage, digested food may not be able to pass through. Symptoms may include crampy abdominal pain (or stomach pain), vomiting, or bloating. A bowel obstruction is one of the most serious complications of this disease. In some cases, bowel obstructions require surgery (see Crohn's Disease Surgery).
 
Perforation
A perforation is a hole in the bowel. The size, location, and seriousness of the hole can vary, so different treatment options may be available for different perforations.
 
Small perforations often seal themselves off, so they may only require a few days in the hospital with close observation. More serious bowel perforations may require a surgery and possible repair or removal of the damaged area. Rarely, a colostomy bag may need to be placed temporarily or permanently after the damaged bowel is removed. This complication is less common in people with Crohn's disease compared to those with ulcerative colitis.
 
Toxic Megacolon
One of the more serious complications of this disease is called "toxic megacolon," which occurs when the large intestine stops working and expands suddenly. This can cause it to bleed excessively, or even rupture -- which can be very dangerous. Fortunately, this is a rare complication.
 
Cancer
Crohn's disease may increase your risk of developing some forms of cancer. If the inflammation is mainly in your small intestine, your risk of cancer of the small intestine is increased. In people whose Crohn's disease affects the colon (large intestine), there is a slight increase in the risk for colon cancer. The risk of cancer gets higher the longer the colon has been affected and the more of it that's involved.
 
For example, if only the lower colon and rectum are involved, the risk of colon or rectal cancer is not higher than normal. But, if the whole colon is involved, the risk of cancer may be as great as 32 times the normal rate.
 

Crohn's Disease Information

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