Major abdominal and perianal surgery in Crohn's disease: long-term follow-up of Australian patients with Crohn's disease

James W. T. Toh, Nelson Wang, Christopher J. Young, Matthew J. F. X. Rickard, Anil Keshava, Peter Stewart, Viraj Kariyawasam, Rupert Leong, Sydney IBD Cohort Collaborators

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Most patients with Crohn's disease still require surgery despite significant advances in medical therapy, surveillance, and management strategies. Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess surgical strategies and outcomes in Crohn's disease, including surgical recurrence and emergency surgery. Design: This was a multicenter, retrospective review of a prospectively collected database. Settings: A specialist-referred cohort of patients with Crohn's disease between 1970 and 2009 was studied. Patients: Included were 972 patients with Crohn's disease who were referred to the Sydney Inflammatory Bowel Disease cohort database. Main outcome measures: Main outcomes of interest were the rates of major abdominal and perianal surgery between decades (1970-1979, 1980-1989, 1990-1999, and 2000-2009), indications for surgery, types of procedure performed, rate of elective and emergency surgery, risk of surgical recurrence, and predictive factors for surgery. Results: Between 1970 and 2009, the overall risks of surgery within 5, 10, and 15 years of diagnosis were 31.7%, 43.3%, and 48.4%. The median time to first surgery from time of diagnosis was 2 years (range, 0-31 years). A total of 6.7% of patients required emergency surgery within 5 years of diagnosis. In total, 8.8% of patients required emergency surgery within 15 years. The overall risk of surgical recurrence was 35.9%. The risk of major abdominal surgery significantly decreased between 2000 and 2009 when compared with the 1970 to 1979 period (OR = 0.49 (95% CI, 0.34-0.70). However, the rate of perianal surgery significantly increased (OR = 5.76 (95% CI, 2.54-13.06)). The main indications for surgery were enteric stricture or obstruction, perianal disease, and intra-abdominal fistulas/abscess. Of the 972 patients over 4 decades, only 11 patients (1.1%) were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Limitations: This was a specialist-referred cohort, not a population-based study. Conclusions: The rate of major abdominal surgery has decreased, with surgery reserved for more severe and complicated disease. The natural history of patients with more complicated Crohn's disease and severe phenotypes puts them at higher risk of surgical recurrence and emergency surgery. There has been no reduction in emergency surgery rates and there has been an increase in surgical recurrence despite the reduction in surgical rate morbidity. See Video Abstract at

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalDiseases of the Colon and Rectum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Crohn's disease
  • Ileocolic resection
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Small-bowel resection
  • Stricturoplasty
  • Surgery


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