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Endoscopy. 2006 May;38(5):483-7.

Safety and efficacy of endoscopic balloon dilation for treatment of Crohn's disease strictures.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine IV, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Strictures are a substantial cause of morbidity in patients with Crohn's disease. Endoscopic balloon dilation is a therapeutic option in limited strictures to avoid intestinal surgery, although there have been few reports regarding the long-term outcome.


Balloon dilation was scheduled for 46 patients (26 women, 20 men; median age 34) with Crohn's-associated symptomatic and radiographically confirmed intestinal stenosis. The study plan envisaged up to four consecutive treatments within the first 2 months until relief of symptoms, and thereafter dilations depending on clinical requirements.


Dilation was not possible in seven of the 46 patients (15 %), due to technical problems (n = 2), internal fistulas (n = 3), or absence of a stenosis (n = 2). Thirty-nine patients received at least one treatment. The site of obstruction was the ileocolonic anastomosis in 23 of the 39 patients (59 %) and surgically untreated areas in 16 patients (41 %). After the initial dilation series (median 1, interquartile range 1-2), strictures were traversed in 37 of the 39 patients (95 %). During a median follow-up period of 21 months (range 3-98 months), 24 of the 39 patients (62 %) underwent a repeat intervention, including 12 (31 %) with repeat dilation, 11 (28 %) with surgical resection, and one patient who received an intestinal stent. The cumulative percentages of patients without a repeat intervention or surgery at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months were 68 %, 48 %, 36 %, and 31 %, and 97 %, 91 %, 84 % and 75 %, respectively. Two perforations and one case of severe bleeding were seen in the 73 dilation procedures (4 %) performed.


Endoscopic balloon dilation is a safe and effective method that allows surgery to be avoided in approximately 75 % of patients with Crohn's-associated short intestinal strictures. However, recurrent symptoms frequently make it necessary to repeat the procedure.

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