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BACKGROUND: The faecal stream plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease. This retrospective study aimed to assess the effect of faecal diversion on the natural history of refractory Crohn's colitis (RCC) and severe perianal disease (PAD). METHODS: All patients undergoing a defunctioning stoma without resection for RCC or PAD between 1970 and 1997 were studied. Indications for surgery, acute clinical response, subsequent outcome and stoma rates were recorded. RESULTS: Some 73 patients underwent a defunctioning stoma (55 RCC and 18 PAD). Acute remission was achieved in 63 patients (48 RCC, 15 PAD). Twenty-nine patients had subsequent closure of the defunctioning stoma (25 of 48 acute responders with RCC and four of 15 acute responders with PAD). Eleven patients with RCC and two with PAD achieved good long-term function without disease relapse (median follow-up 36 months). Overall 52 patients have undergone proctocolectomy or remain with a defunctioning stoma (37 with RCC and 15 with PAD). CONCLUSION: Faecal diversion is associated with acute clinical remission in the majority of patients with RCC and PAD, but sustained benefit occurs less often. For selected patients, diversionary surgery alone offers a realistic alternative to major bowel resection.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Surg

Publication Date





1063 - 1066


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Anastomosis, Surgical, Chronic Disease, Colostomy, Crohn Disease, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Proctocolectomy, Restorative, Recurrence, Retrospective Studies, Treatment Outcome