Surgery and immuno modulation in Crohn’s disease

Abstract: Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease with unknown origin. This study investigates the combined use of surgery and immuno modulation in Crohn’s disease. The outcome of medication and surgery in 371 operations on 237 patients between 1989 and 2006 were evaluated. Moreover the effects of prednisolone, azathioprine and infliximab on the healing of colo-colonic anastomosis in 84 mice with or without colitis were evaluated.The use of thiopurines after abdominal surgery in selected cases of severe Crohn’s disease was found to prolong the time to clinical relapse of the disease from 24 to 53 months. Patients on postoperative maintenance therapy with azathioprine had a decreased symptomatic load over time and needed fewer steroid courses.The use of thiopurines was found to be a risk factor of anastomotic complications in abdominal surgery for Crohn’s disease together with pre-operative intra-abdominal sepsis and colo-colonic anastomosis. The risk for anastomotic complications increased from 4 % in those without any of these risk factors to 13 % in those with any one and 24 % if two or three risk factors were present.In patients with two or more of these, or previously established, risk factors prior to surgery one should consider refraining from anastomosis or doing a proximal diverting stoma. Another possibility is to use a split stoma in which both ends of a future delayed anastomosis are brought out in the same ostomy hole of the abdominal wall. This method was found to significantly decrease the number of risk factors prior to the actual anastomosis as well as decreasing the risk of anastomotic complications, without increasing the number of operations or the time spent in hospital.In the animal model all three medications had an ameliorating effect on the colitis compared with placebo. Only prednisolone was found to interfere with the healing of the colo-colonic anastomoses with significantly decreased bursting pressure compared with placebo as well as azathioprine and infliximab.The association between azathioprine therapy and anastomotic complications may be due to a subgroup of patients with a more severe form of the disease who have an increased risk of such complications and also are more prone to receive intense pharmacological therapy.

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