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Chir Ital. 2000 Jul-Aug;52(4):335-42.

[New developments in Crohn's disease: unravelling the mystery of its etiopathogenesis and its reinstatement as a surgically treatable condition. Part 3: The rational principles of surgical therapy].

[Article in Italian]

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Scuola di Specializzazione in Chirurgia Generale dell'Università degli Studi di Firenze II U.O. Chirurgia Generale e Vascolare, Azienda Ospedaliera Careggi.


The diagnosis of Crohn's disease makes surgery mandatory in any form of the disease, because it is ingravescent, spreads in the bowel, and is unresponsive to any type of pharmacological treatment; it invariably involves major consequences and often leads to serious complications such as perforation and cancer in the long term. The operation has to be performed promptly, because the commonest complications, such as obstruction and perforation, may occur at any stage of the disease, including the initial phase. Moreover, it is advisable to prevent the spread of the disease to the colon and jejunum, which occurs in increasing percentages of patients and is related to duration of the disease. As a rule, surgery has to take the form of a resection of the diseased bowel, which includes not only the lesions already in progress, but also those which may be expected to develop. Therefore, since the disease is segmentary, the resection, too, has to be segmentary, even when part of the diseased segment is apparently sound. Inadequate resection is often followed by dehiscence of the anastomosis and sooner or later by an inevitable recurrence. Three types of resection are performed for Crohn's disease depending on whether it manifests as ileitis, ileitis plus right colitis, or ileitis plus right and left colitis. Ileitis requires an ileocolic resection. Because the resection has to be segmentary and the proximal limit of the segment, i.e. of the lesions, cannot be determined at external examination of the intestine, the surgeon has to perform an approximate, temporary resection and examine the resected specimen, open along its entire length, before constructing the anastomosis. The borderline between the diseased and intact ileum, where convinient valves, appear with their thin, delicate outline, can be identified exactly in the mucosal surface. The resection has a "safety margin" of 10 cm. Section of the ascending colon can be performed wherever the surgeon prefers. The ileitis plus right colitis forms require resection of the ileum according to the procedure described and of the right colon, even when the lesions are confined to the caecum. Section and anastomosis must be performed in the initial tract of the transverse colon. The ileitis plus right and left colitis forms call for total colectomy in addition to resection of the ileum, even when the lesions are confined to the transverse colon. The operation is completed with an ileorectal anastomosis constructed on the lower portion of the intraperitoneal rectum (drained by the hypogastric collectors).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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