Q: After surgery for Crohn’s disease, will a pouch be needed permanently?
A: Not usually. The type of surgery which is usually recommended in Crohn’s disease is called a resection. Doctors will consider performing a resection to remove the sections of the intestine which are inflamed, or damaged by inflammation. A resection of the intestine is carried out in cases where the symptoms of Crohn’s disease have not been alleviated by other treatments. When the inflamed sections of the intestine have been removed, the healthy sections will be stitched together. A resection is a major procedure and usually performed under general anaesthetic.
In people with Crohn’s disease who have undergone a resection, ileostomy may be prescribed, to divert stool and other digestive waste away from the colon. This is to give the area of the intestine, which has undergone a resection, a chance to heal. Whether this is temporary or permanent depends on:
The nature of a person’s Crohn’s disease
Their post-surgery recovery
Their overall medical history
Even if doctors do not recommend reversal and it is decided that the best management plan involves a person using their continence pouch on a permanent basis, many people find that they experience a greatly improved quality of life with the pouch, compared with their previous experiences of managing Crohn’s disease.
However, the type of surgery usually prescribed to treat Crohn’s disease is a loop form of the procedure, which is temporary. Most people with Crohn’s disease who have undergone this procedure will be able to have it reversed following successful healing. They will excrete waste via the rectum and anus as normal thereafter.