BACKGROUND: Since its introduction in the early 1980s, strictureplasty (SXP) has become a viable option in the surgical management of obstructing small bowel Crohn's disease. Questions still remain regarding its safety and longterm durability in comparison to resection. Precise indications and contraindications to the procedure are also not well defined. STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective review of all patients undergoing SXP for obstructing small bowel Crohn's disease at the Cleveland Clinic between 1984 and 1999 was conducted. A total of 314 patients underwent a laparotomy that included the index SXP. The total number of SXPs performed was 1,124, with a median of two (range 1 to 19) per patient. Sixty-six percent of patients underwent a synchronous bowel resection. Recurrence was defined as the need for reoperation. Followup information was determined by personal interviews, phone interviews, or both. RESULTS: The overall morbidity rate was 18%, with septic complications occurring in 5% of patients. Preoperative weight loss (p = 0.004) and older age (p = 0.008) were found to be significant predictors of morbidity. The surgical recurrence rate was 34%, with a median followup period of 7.5 years (range 1 to 16 years). Age was found to be a significant predictor of recurrence (p = 0.02), with younger patients having a shorter time to reoperation. CONCLUSIONS: This large series of patients with longterm followup confirms the safety and efficacy of strictureplasty in patients with obstructing small bowel Crohn's disease. The 18% morbidity and 34% operative recurrence rates compare favorably with reported results of resective surgery. Caution should be used in patients with preoperative weight loss, because they experienced higher complication rates. Although young patients seem to follow an accelerated course, SXP remains indicated as part of an overall strategy to conserve intestinal length.
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