A blood boiling piece that advocates Crohn’s patients undergo surgery.

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250,000 suffer from incurable gut disease
Thousands develop cancer and infection, many die

Now one expert argues that keyhole surgery, not just drugs, is the answer

Imagine the pain of a mouth ulcer – a burning, needle-like sensation that is impossible to ignore.
And now imagine hundreds of these sores lining your gut, triggering agonising spasms every time a piece of food is eaten or the digestive system moves.
This is what it feels like to have inflammatory bowel disease
Couple this with embarrassing digestive discomfort and a raised risk of cancer, internal bleeding, infection and, in many cases, death and you can see why we so desperately need to find a solution to this problem.
Crohn’s can develop anywhere along the digestive tract, causing inflammation, deep ulcers and scarring and, eventually, permanent damage.
And because of the digestive problems, patients stop wanting to eat. I have seen relatively healthy-looking patients reduced to walking skeletons within months.

For decades, doctors have pinned their hopes on discovering a cure, or at least a drug that can treat IBD without causing major side effects.

But as it is, the immune-suppressing or anti-inflammatory medicines we use are so powerful they cause acne, facial swelling, insomnia and mood swings.

Today we must focus on how best to help patients to live pain and risk free lives. I would argue that today the linchpin of treatment must be good old-fashioned surgery.

Yes, it is a big operation but I want to get the message out: don’t be scared. Today we are so adept that in 50 per cent of cases, an operation provides a virtual cure.

Fortunately, physicians are becoming more aware of the need for early, aggressive treatment, going straight to the new disease-modifying drugs rather than dilly-dallying with less effective medicines.

The moment they notice complications, they call in a surgeon to remove the damaged section of the gut.

Nearly 85 per cent of sufferers will need surgery in their lifetime. It is just a question of when to operate to remove the damaged sections of the gut – not if.

Up to ten per cent develop complications after the operation – the bowel won’t join up, they get peritonitis and end up in hospital with blood poisoning.

The crucial thing is to operate sooner rather than later. Then there is a good success rate.

We always try to make decisions with the patient about the timing of an operation. But they should be made aware of the risks of delaying surgery – including cancer.

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