Background: The aim of this prospective study was to elucidate the features, indications, and surgical treatment in patients affected by complications of Crohn's disease.
Methods: Between January 1985 and July 1996, 513 consecutive patients (248 male, 265 female; mean age, 38 years) were operated on for 542 occurrences of Crohn's disease. Data were collected prospectively.
Results: Indications for abdominal surgery were often multiple but included failure of medical management (n = 220), obstruction (n = 94), intestinal fistula (n = 68), mass (n = 56), abdominal abscess (n = 33), hemorrhage (n = 7), and peritonitis (n = 9). Four hundred sixty-four abdominal procedures were performed, necessitating 425 intestinal resections and 97 stricture plasties. The use of stricture plasty was more common in the second half of the study (16.0% versus 7.3%, second half versus first half; p < 0.01). Perioperative complications occurred in 75 of the 464 abdominal operations (16%). There were no deaths. One hundred thirty patients (25%) required operation for perineal complications of Crohn's disease. The presence of Crohn's disease in the rectal mucosa was associated with a higher risk for permanent stomas in patients requiring operation for treatment of perianal Crohn's disease (67% versus 11%; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Patterns of surgical treatment in Crohn's disease are changing, with more emphasis on nonresectional options. The presence of rectal involvement significantly increases the need for a permanent stoma in patients with perianal Crohn's disease.