Crohn’s Disease Surgery: When and Why It’s Necessary

Crohn’s Disease Surgery

Strictureplasty: This surgical procedure is performed to widen narrowed segments of the intestine (strictures) caused by inflammation and scar tissue. Instead of removing the affected portion of the intestine, the surgeon makes lengthwise cuts and then closes them transversely to widen the area. Strictureplasty is typically used when removing the stricture would result in too much loss of intestine. Discover about How Serious is Crohn’s Disease

Resection: In some cases, a segment of the severely diseased or damaged intestine may need to be removed. This procedure is called a resection. The two healthy ends of the intestine are then connected, typically with stitches or staples.

Colectomy: A colectomy may be necessary if Crohn’s disease affects the colon (large intestine) extensively. This involves removing all or part of the colon. Depending on the extent of the surgery, the surgeon may create an ileostomy or an ileoanal pouch to redirect waste out of the body.

Abscess or Fistula Drainage: Surgery may be required to drain abscesses (collections of pus) or to treat fistulas (abnormal connections between organs or between an organ and the skin). These complications can occur in Crohn’s disease and often require surgical intervention.


Stricturoplasty: This procedure is used to widen narrowed sections of the intestine without removing them. It is beneficial when the disease affects multiple areas of the small intestine.

Ileostomy or Colostomy: In some cases, especially when extensive small or large intestine sections need to be removed, a temporary or permanent ostomy may be created. This involves bringing a portion of the intestine to the abdominal surface, allowing waste to be collected in a bag. An ileostomy involves the small intestine, while a colostomy involves the large intestine.

Also read the Article: Crohn’s Disease Medication

It’s important to note that surgery for Crohn’s disease is usually considered when other treatments have failed, or complications like strictures, abscesses, or fistulas develop. Surgery is not a cure for Crohn’s disease and does not guarantee that it will not recur. Post-surgery, patients often require medical treatment and regular follow-up with healthcare providers to manage their condition and prevent recurrence.

When is Crohn’s Disease Surgery Necessary?

Surgery for Crohn’s disease is considered when conservative treatments, such as medication and dietary modifications, fail to provide sufficient relief or when complications arise. Common scenarios that may necessitate surgery include:

Stricture Formation

Issue: Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to the development of criticisms, which are narrowed segments of the intestines. These strictures can obstruct the passage of food, leading to severe pain, bloating, and bowel obstructions.

Surgical Solution: Surgeons may perform a strictureplasty or a bowel resection to remove the affected segment of the intestine and reconnect the healthy ends.

Fistulas and Abscesses

Issue: Crohn’s disease can cause the formation of abnormal connections between different parts of the intestines (fistulas) or pockets of infection (abscesses). These can be painful and challenging to manage with medication alone.

Surgical Solution: Surgeons may drain abscesses and repair fistulas during surgery.

Medication Intolerance or Failure

Issue: Some individuals with Crohn’s disease may not respond well to medications or experience severe side effects. In such cases, surgery may be considered to remove the diseased portion of the intestine.

Surgical Solution: Surgical options may include bowel resection or removal of the entire colon and rectum (proctocolectomy).

Perforation or Bleeding

Issue: In rare cases, Crohn’s disease can cause perforations (holes) in the intestinal walls or severe bleeding, which can be life-threatening.

Surgical Solution: Emergency surgery may be required to repair the perforation or control bleeding.

Crohn's Disease
Crohn’s Disease

Cancer Risk

Issue: Long-standing inflammation in the digestive tract increases the risk of developing colon cancer. If precancerous changes or early-stage cancer is detected, surgery may be recommended.

Surgical Solution: Removing the affected area may be necessary to prevent cancer progression.

Types of Crohn’s Disease Surgery

Several surgical procedures are commonly performed to manage Crohn’s disease. The choice of design depends on the specific circumstances of the patient. Here are some of the most common types:

Bowel Resection

Procedure: A segment of the diseased intestine is removed, and the healthy ends are reconnected.

Purpose: To treat strictures, remove damaged portions, or manage complications like abscesses.


Procedure: This procedure involves widening a narrowed section of the intestine without removing it.

Purpose: Typically used when the affected segment of the intestine is too long to remove without risking malabsorption issues.

Ileostomy or Colostomy

Procedure: In some cases, when extensive removal of the colon or rectum is necessary, an ileostomy (connecting the ileum to a stoma in the abdominal wall) or a colostomy (connecting the colon to a stoma) may be performed.

Purpose: To divert stool away from the affected or surgically altered portions of the digestive tract, allowing them to heal.


Procedure: Removal of the entire colon, often required in cases of severe disease or when cancer is a concern.

Purpose: To eliminate the source of inflammation and reduce cancer risk.

What to Expect Before and After Surgery

Before undergoing Crohn’s disease surgery, patients can expect the following steps:

  • Pre-surgery Evaluation: Your healthcare team will conduct various tests, such as blood work, imaging scans, and colonoscopy, to assess the extent of the disease and plan the surgery.
  • Discussion: You’ll have detailed discussions with your surgeon to understand the procedure, potential risks, benefits, and alternatives.
  • Preparation: Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on fasting, medication adjustments, and other pre-surgery practices.

After surgery, here’s what you can anticipate:

  • Recovery Time: Recovery time varies depending on the type of surgery and individual factors. Some people may stay in the hospital for several days, while others may be discharged sooner.
  • Dietary Changes: You’ll likely follow a specific diet plan during the initial phases of recovery. Your healthcare team will guide you on gradually reintroducing regular foods.
  • Medication: Sometimes, a prescription may still be required after surgery to manage symptoms and prevent recurrence.
  • Follow-up Care: Regular appointments with your surgeon and gastroenterologist are crucial to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.


While Crohn’s disease surgery is typically reserved for specific situations, it can be a life-changing intervention for individuals who have exhausted other treatment options or experienced complications. It’s essential to have open and thorough discussions with your healthcare team to understand when surgery might be necessary and what to expect. With proper medical guidance and support, individuals with Crohn’s disease can achieve better symptom control and an improved quality of life.


. What is Crohn’s disease surgery? 

Crohn’s disease surgery refers to various surgical procedures used to treat complications or manage symptoms of Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Surgery may be necessary when medications and other treatments are ineffective in controlling the disease.

. When is surgery for Crohn’s disease recommended? 

Surgery is typically recommended in the following situations:

  • Severe complications such as bowel obstructions, abscesses, or fistulas.
  • Medication-resistant symptoms include severe pain, diarrhea, and bleeding.
  • Growth failure or nutritional deficiencies due to the disease.
  • Medication side effects that are intolerable or harmful.

. What are the standard surgical procedures for Crohn’s disease? 

The most common surgeries for Crohn’s disease include:

  • Strictureplasty: Widening of narrowed sections of the intestine.
  • Bowel resection: Removal of damaged portions of the intestine.
  • Fistula or abscess drainage: Surgical drainage of abscesses or removal of fistulas.
  • Colectomy: Removal of the entire colon in severe cases.
  • Ileostomy or colostomy: Creation of an artificial opening in the abdominal wall for waste elimination.

. Is surgery a cure for Crohn’s disease? 

No, surgery is not a cure for Crohn’s disease. It is mainly performed to manage complications and improve the quality of life. Crohn’s disease can recur after surgery, and medication or further surgery may be necessary.

. What are the risks associated with Crohn’s disease surgery? 

Surgery carries inherent risks, including infection, bleeding, anesthesia-related complications, and post-operative pain. Specific risks for Crohn’s disease surgery may include the development of new fistulas or abscesses, recurrence of the disease, or complications from an ostomy.

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