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Surgery for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Expert Surgical Care for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Our surgeons are experts in advanced minimally invasive surgical techniques for IBD. These minimally invasive procedures mean smaller incisions, less scarring and faster healing. We incorporate the use of single-incision techniques, robot-assisted and transanal approaches when appropriate to provide the best possible outcomes in the treatment of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and their complications.

Surgery for Crohn’s Disease

UC San Diego’s advanced surgery for Crohn’s disease includes surgical treatment for:

  • Patients with recurrent Crohn’s disease, including reoperations following earlier surgeries
  • Patients who have been treated with combination immunosuppressant therapies
  • Patients at higher risk for repeat relapses, such as those who smoke
  • Patients experiencing urgent complications, including intestinal perforation, bowel obstruction or severe bleeding
  • Patients with esophageal Crohn’s disease and stomach or duodenal Crohn’s disease

According to the National Institute of Digestive and Kidney Diseases, approximately two-thirds of people with Crohn’s disease will require surgery at some point in their lives. Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere along the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. 

Our colorectal surgeons perform intestinal sparing surgical procedures including proctocolectomy, ileostomy, temporary ostomy, intestinal resection, strictureplasty, minimally invasive correction of anal abscesses and fistulas, and incision draining with seton placement for managing infection. 

Surgery for Ulcerative Colitis

While Crohn’s disease can involve any part of the digestive tract, ulcerative colitis is generally limited to the lining of the large intestine (colon). Surgery is the best treatment option, if:

  • Medications do not effectively reduce symptoms
  • The medications or ulcerative colitis cause life-threatening side effects
  • Inflammation has been present for many years and pre-cancer (dysplasia) or colon cancer is developing

 A proctocolectomy, removal of the rectum and colon, is curative for UC because without a colon or rectum, you cannot have UC. Of course, this is a life-altering surgery. After a proctocolectomy, surgeons recreate a reservoir for storage of body wastes.

Our surgeons have unmatched experience in ileoanal reservoir (J-pouch) surgery and the surgical management of complications related to J-pouch creation.  In addition, we are the leading medical center in the region for urgent surgery for toxic ulcerative colitis.

Surgery has often been considered a last resort for IBD, but for many people, especially those with UC, surgery gives them their lives back. Read more about colorectal surgery and gastrointestinal surgery.

Read more about medical management of IBD.