Current strategies in the management of intra-abdominal abscesses in crohn's disease

Linda A. Feagins, Stefan D. Holubar, Sunanda V. Kane, Stuart J. Spechler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Crohn's disease is characterized by inflammation that involves the full thickness of the bowel wall, which can lead to serious complications including intra-abdominal and pelvic abscesses. The combination of an intra-abdominal abscess with active Crohn's disease poses a particular dilemma for the treating physician, who must weigh the benefits of using immunosuppressive therapies for the inflammatory bowel disease against the risks of immunosuppression in the presence of serious abdominal infection. Traditionally, Crohn's-related abscesses were managed with early surgery, which often involved external drainage procedures, bowel resection, and the creation of diverting ostomies in acutely ill patients. Today such abscesses often can be managed initially with antibiotics and percutaneous drainage, with evaluation for the need for delayed surgery in selected patients. With delayed surgery performed electively, the surgeon frequently can resect the diseased bowel and create a primary anastomosis, thus avoiding emergency operations and multistage procedures. In highly selected cases, surgery might be avoided entirely. This report reviews the literature on the pathophysiology and management of intra-abdominal abscesses in Crohn's disease (including the roles of percutaneous drainage, immunosuppressive therapy, and surgery), and provides a suggested approach to the management of patients with this difficult problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-850
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Abscess
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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