Therapeutic Armamentarium for Stricturing Crohn's Disease: Medical Versus Endoscopic Versus Surgical Approaches

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015 Sep;21(9):2194-213. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000403.


One-third of patients with Crohn's disease (CD) present as stricturing phenotype characterized by progressive luminal narrowing and obstructive symptoms. The diagnosis and management of these patients have been intriguing and challenging. Immunomodulators and biologics have been successfully used in treating inflammatory and fistulizing CD. There are issues of efficacy and safety of biological agents in treating strictures in CD. Rapid mucosal healing from potent biological agents may predispose patients to the development of new strictures or worsening of existing strictures. On the other hand, strictures constitute one-fifth of the reasons for surgery in patients with CD. Disease recurrence is common at or proximal to the anastomotic site with the majority of these patients developing new endoscopic lesions within 1 year of surgery. The progressive nature of the disease with repetitive cycle of inflammation and stricture formation results in repeated surgery, with a risk of small bowel syndrome. There is considerable quest for bowel conserving endoscopic and surgical strategies. Endoscopic balloon dilation and stricturoplasty have emerged as valid alternatives to resection. Endoscopic balloon dilation has been shown to be feasible, safe, and effective for the short primary or anastomotic strictures. However, repeated dilations are often needed, and long-term outcomes of endoscopic balloon dilation remain to be investigated. The introduction of stricturoplasty has added another dimension to bowel saving strategy. Although postoperative recurrence rate after stricturoplasty is comparable with surgical resection, there are concerns for increased risk of malignancy in preserved bowel. Laparoscopic surgery has widely been performed with similar outcomes to open approach with fewer complications, quicker recovery, better cosmesis, and lower cost. All of these issues should be considered by physicians involved in the management of patients with stricturing CD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization / methods
  • Constriction, Pathologic / drug therapy
  • Constriction, Pathologic / surgery
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • Crohn Disease / surgery*
  • Dilatation / methods
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / methods
  • Humans
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Intestines / surgery*
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Treatment Outcome