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Open Access Research article

Laparoscopic surgery for Crohn’s disease: a meta-analysis of perioperative complications and long term outcomes compared with open surgery

Sunil V Patel12*, Sanjay VB Patel1, Sreeram V Ramagopalan234 and Michael C Ott1

Author Affiliations

1 Divisions of General Surgery, The University of Western Ontario London, Ontario, ON, Canada

2 Department of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom

3 Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

4 Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

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BMC Surgery 2013, 13:14  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-13-14

Published: 24 May 2013



Previous meta-analyses have had conflicting conclusions regarding the differences between laparoscopic and open techniques in patients with Crohn’s Disease. The objective of this meta-analysis was to compare outcomes in patients with Crohn’s disease undergoing laparoscopic or open surgical resection.


A literature search of EMBASE, MEDLINE, The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the US National Institute of Health’s Clinical Trials Registry was completed. Randomized clinical trials and non-randomized comparative studies were included if laparoscopic and open surgical resections were compared. Primary outcomes assessed included perioperative complications, recurrence requiring surgery, small bowel obstruction and incisional hernia.


34 studies were included in the analysis, and represented 2,519 patients. Pooled analysis showed reduced perioperative complications in patients undergoing laparoscopic resection vs. open resection (Risk Ratio 0.71, 95% CI 0.58 – 0.86, P = 0.001). There was no evidence of a difference in the rate of surgical recurrence (Rate Ratio 0.78, 95% CI 0.54 – 1.11, P = 0.17) or small bowel obstruction (Rate Ratio 0.63, 95% CI 0.28 – 1.45, P = 0.28) between techniques. There was evidence of a decrease in incisional hernia following laparoscopic surgery (Rate Ratio 0.24, 95% CI 0.07 – 0.82, P = 0.02).


This is the largest review in this topic. The results of this analysis are based primarily on non-randomized studies and thus have significant limitations in regards to selection bias, confounding, lack of blinding and potential publication bias. Although we found evidence of decreased perioperative complications and incisional hernia in the laparoscopic group, further randomized controlled trials, with adequate follow up, are needed before strong recommendations can be made.

Laparoscopy; Crohn’s disease; Perioperative complications; Surgical recurrence; Hernia; Small bowel obstruction