Minimally Invasive Laparoscopic Colon Surgery May Benefit Obese Patients, Individuals with Crohn's Disease

September 9, 2009

The development of a new laparoscopic colon surgery technique successfully treats Crohn’s disease and may be a new option for patients when traditional laparoscopic colon surgery has not worked.

The development of a new laparoscopic colon surgery technique successfully treats Crohn’s disease and may be a new option for patients when traditional laparoscopic colon surgery has not worked.

Dr. David Blumberg, a laparoscopic colon surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, developer of the new surgery technique, explained that this new approach may work better because he uses a laparoscopic device called a harmonic scalpel that separates the intestine when it is trapped within scar tissue. This would be especially beneficial to patients who have previously had colon resection surgery, in regard to scar tissue that has already built up. According to Blumberg, the “combined use of laparoscopic colectomy with a harmonic scalpel was successful in 95% of patients with scar tissue in the abdomen,” which allowed physicians to avoid performing an open colectomy. Blumberg also stated that this new technique gives patients a 95%-98% success rate, in comparison to a 20%-25% failure rate that is “commonly” reported with traditional laparoscopic colon surgery.

In addition to the use of the harmonic scalpel and the new rates of the success that this technique offers, the procedure may also provide new hope for obese patients suffering from Crohn’s disease who have not had success with other types of procedures. According to Blumberg, traditional laparoscopic colon resection is often associated with an increased risk of complications in obese patients, and, among the obese patients that Blumberg has performed the new procedure thus far, the new technique is equally as safe and effective on obese individuals as on patients who are within a normal weight range.

Results of this study were published in Surgical Laparoscopy, Endoscopy & Percutaneous Techniques.