A clinical and statistical analysis has been undertaken in a consecutive series of 227 patients with Crohn's disease involving the distal ileum under long-term review between 1944 and 1978. We have determined the long-term prognosis, cumulative reoperation rates after each resection, mortality rates, and their causes. Actuarial analysis has shown that the reoperation rates are similar after first, second, and third resections. There was no evidence that additional operations increase the risk of yet more resections. Reoperation rates were very little influenced by the age at diagnosis of the underlying Crohn's disease. A short interval from diagnosis of Crohn's disease to the first resection tended to increase the reoperation rate in the short term but there was no overall long-term effect. There was a two-fold increase in mortality risk when compared with the general population. Half the deaths were unrelated to the underlying Crohn's disease and, in this group, the incidence and causes were similar to those expected in the general population matched for age, sex, and years at risk. Of the disease related deaths many occurred in the early years of experience. Only four patients in the series have died of Crohn's disease in the last 10 years. One hundred and ninety-three patients are still alive after a mean interval of 16.1 years from the diagnosis of Crohn's disease. Full information is available on 185, of whom 161 are well and symptom free. Seven have minor problems, while 17 are unwell (nine with radiological evidence of recurrent disease).
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