When surgery is needed for Crohn's disease

Surgery for Crohn's disease usually is needed if ongoing symptoms do not respond to medicine or if side effects of medicine cause other serious problems.1

Surgery may also be needed when:

  • Bowel blockage (obstruction) occurs.
  • Abscesses or tears (fissures) form in the anal area or abnormal connections (fistulas) form between two parts of the intestine or between the intestine and other internal organs. Surgery may be needed if these abscesses and fistulas do not get better with treatment.
  • Holes develop in the large intestine (perforations).
  • Cancer or precancerous tissue is present (less common in Crohn's disease).
  • Severe disease is not responding to other treatment.
  • Severe bleeding requires ongoing blood transfusions.


  1. Hanauer SB, et al. (2001). Practice guidelines: Management of Crohn's disease in adults. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 96(3): 635–643.

Last Updated: October 9, 2008

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