Objective: To examine the use of surgical procedures for Crohn's disease since the introduction of infliximab.
Summary background data: Prior studies have shown that the overall rate of surgery for Crohn's disease has not changed significantly since the introduction of infliximab, an immunomodulator considered particularly effective in treating Crohn's fistulas. How infliximab has affected individual rates of specific types of procedures, particularly surgery for intestinal fistulas, is unknown.
Methods: We used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample to identify all hospital admissions for Crohn's disease for each year from 1993 through 2004. Cases of Crohn's disease and relevant surgical interventions were identified using International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) codes. Using US Census data to establish population denominators, trends in population-based rates of use of these procedures were examined over time. Trends were tested for significance with Spearman rank correlation tests.
Results: From 1993 to 2004, there was no statistically significant change in population-based rates of small bowel and right colon resection, while rates of left colon resection, other colon resection, and rectal resection declined moderately. However, rates of surgical repair of fistulas of the small intestine, the most commonly performed fistula operation, increased by 60%, from 1.5 per 1,000,000 in 1993 to 2.4 per 1,000,000 in 2004 (P = 0.04).
Conclusions: During the period of adoption of infliximab as a novel treatment for Crohn's disease, overall rates of bowel resections have either remained relatively stable or decreased moderately, while rates of small bowel fistula repair have increased significantly. These findings call into question the effectiveness of infliximab in preventing the need for surgery for Crohn's disease at the population level.