Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Most children with IBD do not need an operation. There are many medications available for treatment, which generally fall into two categories: anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications. The majority of children with IBD do well on these medications.

Some children with ulcerative colitis, however, have such severe symptoms that an operation is recommended. In this operation, the pediatric surgeon removes the large intestine and pulls the small intestine to the anus in a procedure called a pull-through. A pouch is made at the end of the intestine to help collect stool between bowel movements.

In many children this can be done in a single operation, but some children need two operations or stages. During the first operation, the colon is removed, a pouch is created and a temporary ileostomy is made. Ileostomy involves bringing the portion of the small bowel that empties into the large bowel, called the ileum, out to an opening on the abdomen. Stool flows out the opening and is collected in a bag that sticks to the skin. Several months later, during the second operation, the ileostomy is closed and the intestine reconnected so stool flows into the pouch and out the anus.

Children with Crohn's disease usually aren't treated with surgery, since the disease can return and is not cured with an operation. Crohn's disease can affect the entire bowel, not just a portion. If a part of bowel is removed, Crohn's disease can occur in the remaining bowel. However, children with Crohn's disease may need an operation to relieve a bowel obstruction, drain an abscess (pocket of infection) or drain fistulae, abnormal tube-like connections from the bowel to the skin.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Gastroenterology & Nutritional Disorders

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2813
Urgent Appointment Requests:: (415) 353-1235
Fax: (415) 476-1343
Appointment information