The good news is that most patients with the inflammatory bowel condition known as Crohn’s disease will not require colorectal surgery. Unfortunately, there are situations in which colorectal surgery is necessary. These are generally due to an emergency, a lack of response to medication or a severe impact on the quality of life. The doctors at Piedmont Colorectal Associates discuss when colorectal surgery is recommended for Crohn’s disease complications.
People with Crohn’s disease suffer from chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. While there is no cure for this painful and debilitating disease, medications and nutritional therapy can relieve symptoms and slow progression. Some patients may experience long periods of remission from Crohn’s disease, but active disease can return at any time.
Crohn’s Disease Complications
Crohn’s disease complications requiring surgery may include:
- Abscess – Pockets of pus due to infection develop along the intestine. Although antibiotics are prescribed, the doctor may need to drain the pus surgically to promote healing.
- Bowel obstruction – Scarring of the bowel can result in a stricture. This blockage may require surgery to remove the diseased tissue or widen a narrow stricture.
- Bowel perforation – Chronic inflammation from Crohn’s may cause a hole in the bowel to develop. The bowel contents can spill into the abdomen, causing life-threatening peritonitis.
- Fistula – Ulcers on the intestine’s inner wall may extend throughout the entire wall, causing a tunnel, or fistula. Surgery plugs or drains the fistula. This is one of the most common Crohn’s disease complications.
- Major intestinal hemorrhage – Uncontrolled bleeding in the intestine that cannot be stopped with other treatments requires surgery. This is a rare complication.
- Toxic megacolon – In this life-threatening condition, the colon expands so much that rupture is a possibility.
Patients with severe disease may require removal of the colon, a procedure known as a colectomy. In some cases, removal of the colon and rectum, or proctocolectomy, is needed. After proctocolectomy, patients will wear an ostomy bag permanently to collect waste.
Crohn’s Disease and Colorectal Cancer
Patients with Crohn’s disease are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Regular colon cancer screenings are a must. Patients diagnosed with Crohn’s disease with symptoms for eight years or more should undergo an annual or biannual colonoscopy. Early detection of colorectal cancer can make all the difference in a patient’s prognosis.
Colorectal Surgery for Crohn’s Disease
After undergoing surgery for Crohn’s disease, patients often find their quality of life improving. Many surgeries for Crohn’s disease are performed laparoscopically, which reduces the amount of recuperation downtime.
For More Information, Arrange a Consultation
If you have Crohn’s disease and would like more information about treatment options and colorectal surgery, schedule a personal consultation with the team at Piedmont Colorectal Associates. Contact our Atlanta practice today to make an appointment and have your questions and concerns addressed.