The outcome among 39 patients with enterocutaneous fistulae complicating Crohn's disease has been reviewed. The patients were considered in two groups: (1) no disease - all were early postoperative fistulae (n = 9); (2) active disease (i) without abscess formation (n = 16), (ii) with abscess formation (n = 14). Postoperative fistulae with no evidence of active Crohn's disease healed spontaneously. Fistulae in the presence of active disease did not heal even with prolonged medical management. The only effective treatment was excision of the diseased segment from which the fistulae arose and any distal obstruction. None of the fistulae closed surgically has recurred.
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