It is estimated that up to 75% of those with Crohn’s disease will require surgery for their condition at least one time in their life, if not more. There are medications that can be taken to help with the symptoms, as well as diet modifications, stress relief, and some herbal remedies, but they only work for so long. When there are problems in the intestines that could be fatal if left untreated, Crohn’s disease surgery becomes a necessity. Though this is not considered a cure, it can greatly improve quality of life and even save a life.
Crohn’s can affect any part of the digestive system, but it most commonly appears somewhere along the intestines causing inflammation that impacts the functioning of the intestines. Where it is and how bad it is will help determine if surgery is necessary or not. There are many common occurrences that might require a patient to go under the knife, and most doctors want to help alleviate symptoms in other ways before they recommend that you have an operation. Some are simple and others are a bit more complicated, and can be life changing.
If intestinal blockage occurs, you may have no choice but to have the blockage removed. There may be times when you notice blood coming from the rectum during or after a bowel movement. When this happens, surgery may be needed to fix an abscess or a fistula (small tear or opening in the intestine wall). There may come a time when the lower intestine or colon area becomes perforated. Surgery will be required for those times. Any of these things can be problematic, but not all crohn’s patients will have to deal with it.
When a blockage occurs along the intestine, it can stop food from moving through. There is a surgery called strictureplasty that is used to deal with this specific problem, and these are usually done in the small intestine. This operation is intended to fix the problem and does not require any removal.
However, there are times when the blockage or other issue has to be solved by removing a section of the small intestine, and the two ends are then rejoined. In cases that involve the colon or large intestine, a proctocolectomy might be required. This is a total removal of the colon and the rectum. When that happens, the small intestine is often brought up and attached the abdominal wall, with the waste being passed though this opening into a bag. Doctors will avoid this if at all possible.
Many are afraid to go in for Crohn’s disease surgery, and they are often the ones that are suffering the most. If your doctor suggests that you need surgery, you should really give it serious consideration before you dismiss the idea. For some people there is no choice as not having the surgery could be life threatening.
Crohn’s disease surgery can often greatly improve quality of life. Talk with your doctor about your concerns and your hesitations so that you have a clearer picture of what surgery can do for you, and what the risk are if you do not get it done.
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