Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Dis Colon Rectum. 2001 Dec;44(12):1834-7.

Mechanisms of intestinal failure in Crohn's disease.

Author information

Intestinal Failure Unit, Department of Surgery, Hope Hospital, Salford, Manchester M6 8HD, United Kingdom.



The purpose of this study was to determine the mechanisms by which patients with Crohn's disease develop intestinal failure and, in particular, to assess the relative importance of severe primary disease, repeated uncomplicated elective small intestine resection, and resection performed as a consequence of intra-abdominal septic surgical complications.


This was a retrospective analysis of 41 patients with Crohn's disease referred to a specialized intestinal failure unit between January 1987 and September 1998 for permanent home parenteral nutrition. To compare the surgical activity in patient groups, a resection index was calculated by dividing the number of intestinal resections by the interval in years between the first resection for Crohn's disease and referral for management of intestinal failure.


Extensive primary Crohn's disease was responsible for intestinal failure in 7 cases (17 percent). The remainder (n = 34, 83 percent) developed intestinal failure after intestinal resection. Nine of the "surgical" Crohn's patients developed intestinal failure after uncomplicated sequential resection, (median small-bowel length 65 (range, 60-120) cm) after a median of 3 (range, 2-8) operations over a median of 17 (range, 3-27) years. By contrast, the other 25 surgical Crohn's patients developed intestinal failure after multiple unplanned laparotomies for intra-abdominal sepsis (median small-bowel length 70 (range, 60-200) cm), with a median of 4 (range, 2-7) laparotomies performed over a median of 0.5 (range, 0.1 to 1.5) years (P < 0.001). The resection index for the 25 Crohn's patients undergoing laparotomies for intra-abdominal sepsis was significantly greater than that of the 9 patients who had planned sequential resections (2.1 (0.27-25) vs. 0.23 (0.1-1.0); P < 0.002, Mann-Whitney U test).


Intestinal failure develops in Crohn's disease primarily as a result of complications of surgical treatment. The largest group of patients at risk consists of those who are undergoing multiple unplanned laparotomies to control intra-abdominal sepsis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center