While not a cure-all solution for every patient, surgery to alleviate Crohn’s disease may significantly improve quality of life in people for whom symptoms seriously disrupt everyday activities.
Doctors prefer to exhaust all long term medical therapies and proactive treatments to reduce symptoms and limit flare-ups before considering surgery. Typically, your doctor will only consider surgery if any of the following occurs:
- A large amount of bleeding
- Long-lasting and serious illness
- Ulceration that makes a hole in the intestinal wall
- Medical treatment plan is not controlling the disease
- Obstruction of the intestine
Under these circumstances, surgery may be the best option for treating your Crohn’s disease.
What to Ask Your Doctor Before Surgery
Before electing to undergo any surgery, you will want to consult closely with your medical practitioners.
Consider asking your doctor the following questions:
Why is surgery the best option for me?
Your doctor should be clear with you about their reasoning behind suggesting a surgical intervention. Ask about the goals for the procedure and the expected outcome. What symptoms and complications make surgery the best treatment option? How will surgery improve your quality of life?
Have we exhausted all treatment options?
Surgery of any kind presents inherent risk. You want to be sure your doctor has worked through all non-surgical treatment options. Ask your doctor about any remaining treatment options and be sure he or she can explain why they may or may not be right for you.
How effective is surgery as a treatment?
Effectiveness will vary from patient to patient. Surgery is often used to reduce severe symptoms or correct potentially dangerous complications.
Surgery for Crohn’s disease is not a cure-all. Even after surgery, your Crohn’s disease may come back. Doctors will most likely continue prescribing long-term medication to treat any symptoms remaining after surgery.
What are the risks? The side effects?
Any surgery presents risks and potential complications. With procedures for Crohn’s disease, the risks may include both long and short term side effects. Ask your doctor to explain potential side effects so you can evaluate the cost/benefit of surgical intervention.
What are the types of procedures that may work for me?
Many factors impact the type of surgery that will best treat your Crohn’s disease. Everything from where the disease is located in your intestines to the severity of the disease will inform your doctor’s decision regarding the best type of surgery for you.
Will this cure my Crohn’s disease?
Surgery for Crohn’s disease is not curative. Surgery is meant to intervene in the case of severe symptoms and serious illness. Your Crohn’s symptoms may return after surgery and you will most likely require continued treatment.