Crohn's Disease and Diabetes

Crohns patients with diabetes more likely to require surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When a patient is diagnosed with Crohn's disease, doctors most commonly try to treat them first with medication. Surgery is another treatment option, however, doctors generally do not know which patients will need it.

New research finds that patients who have both diabetes and Crohn's are six times more likely to require surgery for Crohn's than patients without diabetes. This information might help doctors decide what type of medical interventions are most appropriate for patients with both conditions.

"Crohn's patients with diabetes may be at greater risk for surgery."

The study authors, led by Dr. Jason Harper of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, wanted to compare surgery rates for patients with Crohn's and diabetes, compared to Crohn's patients who didn't have diabetes.

Crohn's disease is characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It is an autoimmune disease where a reaction of the immune system causes painful inflammation. Patients experience abdominal cramping, fever and fatigue, among other symptoms. Surgery is an option for patients if the disease does not respond to medication or other therapies.

Diabetes is a chronic disease of high sugar levels in the blood affecting more than 20 million Americans.

Both diseases are chronic, or life-long, and there is no cure for either. But both Crohn's and diabetes are increasingly diagnosed among Americans, for unrelated reasons. Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, while the causes of Crohn's are still unknown.

Out of 240 patients in the study, 16 had diabetes, or 6.7 percent. They had been diagnosed with the disease before the study got started in 2004. The diabetic patients were typically older than the non-diabetic group, but other than that, they didn't differ greatly from the control group.

Over the five year trial, 12 patients with diabetes underwent surgery, along with 71 of the non-diabetic group. After adjusting for other risk factors, the researchers found that diabetes was a significant predictor for surgery. In other words, if you have diabetes and Crohn's, you are much more likely to have surgery than a patient with just Crohn's.

The study authors concluded that physicians should consider this information when deciding what type of therapy is most appropriate for their patients.

The study was published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics in November 2011.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 25, 2011
Last Updated:
November 29, 2011