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"Does Crohn's disease require surgery?"
My 17 year old daughter has Crohn's disease. Should she have surgery before she leaves for college? I don't want her to be alone and going through extremely painful times.
As you know, Crohn's Disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease, in which the body attacks variable parts of the intestinal tract. Unlike ulcerative colitis in which only the colon is affected, Crohn's can affect any portion of the GI tract, from the mouth to the rectum. Also unlike ulcerative colitis, surgery has a very different role in management of the disease. In ulcerative colitis, surgery can be curative if the entire colon is removed. In Crohn's, however, surgery does not stop the disease from recurring. As such, surgery is only reserved for patients that need surgery for a complication of the disease, such as the formation of a fistula or stricture that causes problems with bowel obstruction or abdominal pain. For this reason, longitudinal medical treatment with a gastroenterologist with a strong background in inflammatory bowel disease is key to successful management of Crohn's Disease. You and your daughter should discuss with her gastroenterologist what needs will be anticipated when she goes to college, and if there is any local doctor who she could see in the event that her disease flares up.
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