Risks of surgery for Crohn’s disease
All surgical procedures carry certain risks. If you’re having surgery for Crohn’s
disease, your surgeon can cut an area of healthy bowel accidentally, which could
result in significant bleeding. Additional risks include the following:
Any surgery that involves incisions carries risks for infection. Opening the body
cavity makes it possible for harmful bacteria to enter and infect the body. Surgical
incisions may also become infected after surgery if they aren’t cared for properly.
The small intestine is responsible for digesting a lot of the nutrients in your food.
Surgery to remove all or a portion of your small intestine can cause malabsorption.
This condition affects your body’s ability to absorb enough nutrients, which increases
your risk for nutritional deficiencies.
Marginal ulcers may develop at the site where your surgeon sews the intestine back
together. This prevents the area from healing properly. The result can be very painful
and lead to infection or bowel perforation.
Pouchitis can occur after your surgeon removes the colon if they reconnected the
end of your small bowel to your anus. This procedure is called an ileoanal
anastomosis. During this procedure, your surgeon creates a J-shaped pouch to
collect waste and slow the transit of that waste to the anus. This reduces
incontinence. Pouchitis occurs if this J-shaped pouch becomes inflamed. Common
symptoms of pouchitis include a loss of bowel control, blood in the stool, and a fever.
Strictures, or scarring, might develop at the surgery site. The resulting damage may
make it difficult for digested food and stool to pass through your body. This can
eventually lead to small bowel obstruction or bowel perforation.
There is also a chance that some surgeries won’t work as intended and the
symptoms may continue.
You and your doctor must discuss these risks before surgery. Typically, surgery isn’t
recommended if the risks outweigh the benefits.
Minimizing your risks for post-procedure complications involves listening carefully to
your doctor’s instructions after surgery. This includes keeping your incisions clean
and dry and following any special diet that your doctor may recommend.