Should I Get Surgery for Crohn’s Disease?

Surgical procedures for Crohn’s are no longer considered a last resort. Here’s what you need to know if your doctor recommends surgery.

Surgery used to be considered a last-resort treatment option for people with Crohn’s disease — an indication that nothing else was working. “As a result, doctors who sent people with Crohn’s for surgery felt like they’d failed — but that’s no longer true,” says Raymond K. Cross, MD, professor of medicine and director of the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “Today, surgery is an option for Crohn’s that should be explored, particularly when complications are present. Any time I see a person with Crohn’s disease, I bring it up.”

Although newer medications have helped people control their disease (sometimes reducing the need for surgery altogether), surgical procedures are still very common, says Miguel Regueiro, MD, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s IBD Center in Pennsylvania. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, up to 75 percent of all people with Crohn’s disease need surgery at some point as part of their treatment. Although surgery can’t cure Crohn’s, it can ease a person’s symptoms and provide long-term relief.

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