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Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2004 Jun;33(2):421-54, xi-xii.

Treatment of fistulizing Crohn's disease.

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Gastroenterology Division, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Cooper University Hospital, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 401 Hadden Avenue, Room 374, Camden, NJ 08103, USA.


The primary goals of the clinician in the treatment of fistulizing Crohn's disease (CD) include (1) defining the anatomy of the fistula, (2) draining any associated infectious material, (3) eradicating the fistulous tract through medical or surgical therapies, and (4) preventing recurrence of fistulas. Evaluation and therapeutic decisions require close collaboration between the gastroenterologist and surgeon. Appropriate evaluation should include identification of septic complications, delineation of the fistulous tract including the origin and terminus of the fistula, and determination of the extent of bowel involvement with active CD. Drainage of abscesses and control of septic complications through the placement of drains or setons is essential. Conservative therapy with avoidance of sphincter muscle-cutting procedures is the standard approach. The appropriate approach to asymptomatic patients is uncertain because there are little data to indicate if treatment alters the natural course of disease.

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