Is Crohn’s Stopping You From Enjoying Life?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The condition can happen anywhere along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. However, most cases are in the small intestine and parts of the large intestine. This disease is different from disorders like ulcerative colitis, which affects the large intestine. Crohn’s disease can be quite painful, impacting over 3 million Americans’ daily lives. Some doctors will recommend various techniques to relieve severe chronic pain and discomfort, including outpatient surgery.

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Causes and symptoms

What makes Crohn's disease so destructive? Someone with the condition will experience inflammation, cell and tissue damage of the GI tract. A foreign virus or bacteria triggers a severe response by the immune system. This virus, along with genetic and environmental factors, causes Crohn's. The intestine walls become damaged, causing intense pain, diarrhea, blood in the stool, and fatigue. The damaged intestines also limit nutrient absorption, leading to weight loss, malnutrition, and anemia.

Getting pain under control

Bouts of pain usually happen in the lower abdomen. However, since the condition can happen anywhere, patients can experience pain and other symptoms in other parts of the stomach. Some patients will have blood tests or outpatient procedures to diagnose the disease, including a colonoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy. These surgeries use scopes to review the colon or intestine and take a sample for testing. After diagnosing the condition, most patients can reduce pain using anti-inflammatory medication. Other treatment options include a range of antibiotics, immunomodulators, and corticosteroids.

Can outpatient surgery help?

The anti-inflammatories and steroids can help keep pain under control, but only for a time. Since Chron's is a chronic condition, these treatments can soon be ineffective. There could be an abscess, scarring of the intestine, ulcers, or a blockage. Some cases can be more severe, needing immediate surgical intervention. Outpatient surgery can be one of the fastest ways to reduce pain and improve the quality of life. The surgeon will assess the GI tract and determine the safest, most effective procedure.

What to expect

Thanks to advancements in surgery, patients can have outpatient procedures to treat the condition. The surgeon will use a scope, which is a snake-like tool with a light and camera attached. Another device can be used to remove part of the colon, intestine or repair damage. Common procedures include:

  • A bowel resection, where damaged parts of the intestine are removed before reconnecting the healthy ends.
  • A proctocolectomy or colectomy, where the colon or rectum is surgically removed.
  • A strictureplasty removes blockages and scar tissue while keeping the intestine intact.
  • Sometimes, a tunnel forms between ulcers on the intestinal wall called a fistula. Surgery can treat this condition.

These procedures take anywhere between 1-4 hours to complete. Since the surgery uses minimally invasive means, patients can leave the outpatient center the same day.

Benefits of outpatient surgery

Outpatient surgery means little to no incisions, meaning little to no postoperative pain. As a result, patients recover faster with a lower chance of infection. There is also a better cosmetic result, leaving minimal scarring. Best of all, outpatient surgery is one of the fastest ways to reduce chronic pain and discomfort.

Treat Crohn's quickly with surgery

Surgery can help reduce chronic pain and treat ulcers, abscesses, and scarring caused by Crohn's. Because of outpatient procedures, surgery has become much safer, more efficient, and more effective. Of course, there are risks with all surgeries, which the doctor will discuss with the patient beforehand. Both doctor and patient must discuss if these risks outweigh the benefits. Patients can have a pain-free life with the proper treatment and recovery plan.