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Despite medical therapy, up to 80 percent of Crohn's disease patients will have surgery during their lifetime. In ulcerative colitis patients, 20 to 30 percent will require surgery. Typically surgery is offered to patients that are not responding well to medication or as a last resort to relieve symptoms that cannot be brought under control.
In Crohn's disease patients surgery usually relieves symptoms, but does not offer a cure; however, the surgical advances in the treatment of Crohn's offers bowel-saving techniques such as stricturoplasty (repair of disease segments instead of removal).
Ulcerative colitis, unlike Crohn's disease, is cured once the colon is removed. Although patients usually require an ileostomy (bag attached to the belly wall that collects fecal waste) after a colectomy, another surgical procedure can be performed in many patients later to reverse the ostomy called a restorative proctocolectomy or J pouch. This procedure allows patients to have bowel movements without an ostomy and pass stools through the anus.
The University of Maryland is widely recognized for making pioneering advances in minimally invasive surgery. Our surgeons have performed many of the state of Maryland's first laparoscopic procedures. A minimally invasive approach to surgery affords patients the benefit of smaller incisions, less pain, and a shortened hospital stay. Traditional surgery required a long midline abdominal incision and a lengthy recovery period of between four and eight weeks. With minimally invasive surgery, patients are usually only required to undergo a five night hospital visit, as opposed to a stay of a week or more, and complete recovery is achieved in only three to six weeks.