Treating IBD: Surgery
Patients with IBD commonly undergo surgery. In ulcerative colitis, surgery may be used for treating severe disease, disease that does not respond to treatment, and to prevent the development of cancer. Almost always, the entire colon is removed since ulcerative colitis frequently involves the entire colon and can spread to other uninvolved parts of the colon after the diseased part is removed. Whereas in the past removal of the colon meant that patients would need a bag to collect the small intestinal contents directly, it is now possible to surgically create a reservoir for the contents out of small intestine and allow patients to have normal bowel movements.
Surgery in ulcerative colitis has a major benefit; it cures the disease since it removes the entire organ (the colon) that can be involved. In Crohn's disease, surgery also may be used for treating severe or unresponsive disease, but usually is performed for complications of the disease such as fistulas and strictures. Surgery rarely cures Crohn's disease because of the tendency for inflammation to return in new sections of the bowel after the diseased portions are removed.