Dr Cohen-Mekelburg and Dr Schneider are gastroenterology fellows, Dr Gold is an internal medicine resident, Dr Scherl is a clinical professor and attending physician, and Dr Steinlauf is an assistant professor and attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, New York.
Although there have been significant advances in medical therapies to treat Crohn's disease, an estimated 50% of patients will require surgery within the first decade of disease duration. Of these patients, a substantial number will develop recurrent symptoms within the first postoperative year. To prevent disease recurrence, many physicians use postoperative prophylactic therapy. Randomized, controlled trials, although limited in number, have demonstrated that a prophylactic postoperative strategy is effective at reducing recurrence (both clinical and endoscopic) in high-risk patients. This article reviews the frequency of and risk factors for postoperative Crohn's disease recurrence and the current evidence in favor of postoperative Crohn's disease management strategies. Future studies must be conducted to establish a gold standard as to who should receive postoperative prophylaxis and which therapies and time course are ideal.
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