Colitis Home > Crohn's Disease Surgery

For people with Crohn's disease, surgery may be necessary if lifestyle changes and medications are not enough to relieve symptoms. Some complications associated with this disease may also need to be treated with surgery. Surgery may involve procedures such as a strictureplasty or a colectomy. Although surgical procedures may help to relieve symptoms; however, they are not a cure.

An Overview of Surgery for Crohn's Disease

If you have severe Crohn's disease, and medications (see Crohn's Disease Medications) and lifestyle changes aren't enough to relieve your symptoms, surgery may be necessary. In fact, up to 75 percent of people with Crohn's disease eventually require at least one form of Crohn's disease surgery.
Also, you may need surgery if you develop certain complications of Crohn's disease, such as:
  • A persistent bowel narrowing or bowel obstruction
  • A perforation, or tear, in the intestine
  • A fistula (an abnormal tunnel) from the intestines to the bladder, vagina, or skin that doesn't respond to other Crohn's treatment
  • An abscess (pocket of pus)
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Toxic megacolon (acute widening of the colon).

Types of Crohn's Disease Surgery

There are several types of surgery that may be used to treat Crohn's disease. These include:
  • Strictureplasty
  • Resection
  • Colectomy or proctocolectomy
  • Surgery for an abscess and/or fistula.
Surgery can help relieve Crohn's disease symptoms or treat complications; however, surgery cannot cure Crohn's disease. For example, if part of the colon or small intestine is removed, the inflammation tends to return next to the area of intestine that has been removed. Therefore, people considering surgery should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of surgical procedures compared to those of other treatments.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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