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Crohn’s Disease Surgeries Make Steady Advances

Posted Dec 07 2008 12:09pm

Thousands of Americans suffering from the chronic inflammatory bowel condition known as Crohn’s disease are leading longer, healthier lives due to innovative new surgeries, according to experts at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“Four out of five Crohn’s patients will require some kind of surgery at some point during their lives, but these advanced, often minimally invasive techniques are sparing precious bowel tissue while improving quality of life,” says senior author Dr. Fabrizio Michelassi, Lewis Atterbury Stimson Professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and surgeon-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

He and co-author Dr. Sharon L. Stein, assistant professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and colorectal surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, wrote a “state of the science” review in a recent issue of the journal Practical Gastroenterology.

As many as 500,000 people in the U.S. suffer from Crohn’s disease, which triggers inflammation along the gastrointestinal tract, most typically in the lower bowel. Certain drugs can help ease symptoms, but there is no cure for this chronic illness. Some of the more severe complications of Crohn’s disease include strictures (narrowing of the bowel), abscesses, perforations, fistulas (abnormal, obstructive connections between tissues), hemorrhage and even cancers. These types of complications often require surgical intervention.

“In the past, this was limited to complex, invasive surgeries that required the removal of whole sections of the affected bowel. But over the past two decades, advances in surgery have changed that paradigm,” Dr. Stein notes.

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