Long-Term Outcome of Surgically Treated Crohn's Colitis: A Prospective Study

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PURPOSE:Although bowel-sparing techniques have been published for treatment of Crohn's disease of the small bowel because of its relentless nature, extent of resection in Crohn's colitis is still a topic of debate. This study was designed to prospectively evaluate the long-term outcomes of patients with isolated Crohn's colitis to identify patients that may benefit from initial more aggressive resection.METHODS:We identified 179 patients with Crohn's disease operated on for primary colonic disease. They were divided into segmental colectomy, total abdominal colectomy, and total proctocolectomy groups, based on their initial operation. They were further characterized by extent and location of colonic involvement. Long-term outcome variables evaluated included colonic and small-bowel surgical recurrences, postoperative complications and long-term sequelae, long-term need for medical therapy, and need for permanent fecal diversion.RESULTS:Fifty-five patients underwent segmental colectomy, 49 total abdominal colectomy, and 75 total proctocolectomy. Patients with diffuse colonic involvement were significantly less likely to undergo segmental colectomy than total abdominal colectomy (P< 0.0001) or total proctocolectomy (P< 0.0001). Patients with distal involvement or pancolitis were significantly less likely to undergo segmental colectomy than total abdominal colectomy (P< 0.0001) or total proctocolectomy (P< 0.0001). Overall there were 31 patients (24.4 percent) with surgical Crohn's recurrences during follow-up: 19 (38.8 percent) in the segmental colectomy, 8 (22.9 percent) in the total abdominal colectomy, and 4 (9.3 percent) in the total proctocolectomy group. There was a significant difference in time to recurrence between the three groups by log-rank test (P= 0.017). Segmental colectomy patients had a significantly shorter time to first recurrence than total proctocolectomy patients (P= 0.014). After adjusting for extent of disease, the segmental colectomy group had a significantly greater risk of surgical recurrence than the total proctocolectomy group (P= 0.006). Total proctocolectomy patients were significantly less likely to be still taking medications one year after the index operation than total abdominal colectomy patients (P= 0.003) and segmental colectomy patients (P= 0.0003). During follow-up, patients with isolated distal disease were significantly more likely to require a permanent stoma than patients with isolated proximal disease (P= 0.004).CONCLUSIONS:A more aggressive approach should be considered in patients with diffuse and distal Crohn's colitis. Total proctocolectomy in the properly selected patients is associated with low morbidity, lower risk of recurrence, and longer time to recurrence. Patients after total proctocolectomy are more likely to be weaned off all Crohn's-related medications. Long-term rate of permanent fecal diversion is significantly higher in patients with distal disease.

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