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World J Surg. 2010 Jul;34(7):1615-26. doi: 10.1007/s00268-010-0504-6.

Postsurgical recurrence of ileal Crohn's disease: an update on risk factors and intervention points to a central role for impaired host-microflora homeostasis.

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Surgical Professorial Unit, St Vincent's University Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin 4, Ireland.



A pressing need exists to identify factors that predispose to recurrence after terminal ileal resection for Crohn's disease (CD) and to determine effective prophylactic strategies. This review presents an up-to-date summary of the literature in the field and points to a role for bacterial overproliferation in recurrence.


The literature (Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library, 1971-2009) on ileal CD and postoperative recurrence was searched, and 528 relevant articles were identified and reviewed.


Smoking is a key independent risk factor for recurrence. NOD2/CARD15 polymorphisms and penetrating phenotype are associated with aggressive disease and higher reoperation rates. Age at diagnosis, disease duration, gender, and family history are inconsistent predictors of recurrence. Prophylactic 5-aminosalicylic acid therapy and nitromidazole antibiotics are beneficial. Combination therapies with immunosuppressants are also effective. Anti-TNFalpha-based regimens show benefit but the evidence base is small. Corticosteroid, interleukin-10, and probiotic therapies are not effective. Wider, stapled anastomotic configurations are associated with reduced recurrence rates. Strictureplasty and laparoscopic approaches have similar long-term recurrence rates to open resection techniques. Length of resection and presence of microscopic disease at resection margins do not influence recurrence. A lack of consensus exists regarding whether the presence of granulomas or plexitis affects outcome.


Current evidence points to defects in mucosal immunity and intestinal dysbiosis of either innate (NOD2/CARD15) or induced (smoking) origin in postoperative CD recurrence. Prophylactic strategies should aim to limit dysbiosis (antibiotics, side-to-side anastomoses) or prevent downstream chronic inflammatory sequelae (anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, and immunomodulatory therapy).

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