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BACKGROUND: Combination therapy of thiopurines and anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) antibodies is the most effective medical treatment of Crohn's disease (CD). Data on thiopurines and anti-TNF-α antibodies in preventing surgical recurrence (need for re-resection) of CD are scarce. Therefore, we analyzed which factors were involved in surgical recurrence of CD in a large cohort of patients with CD operated in a regional and a university hospital. METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study of 567 patients who underwent surgery for CD. Clinical data and risk factors for surgical recurrence were analyzed, focusing on medical therapy and hospital type. RESULTS: Overall, 237 (41.8%) patients developed a surgical recurrence, after a median of 70 (2-482) months. Before surgical recurrence, 235 patients (41.4%) and 116 patients (20.5%) used thiopurines and anti-TNF-α antibodies, respectively. Multivariate analysis identified 3 independent risk factors associated with surgical recurrence of CD. A higher risk was seen in patients with colonic disease compared with patients with ileal disease (hazard ratio, 1.56; 95% confidence interval, 1.10-2.21; P = 0.012) and in patients using multiple types of medication (hazard ratio, 1.38; 95% confidence interval, 1.25-1.54; P < 0.001). However, a lower risk was seen in patients using thiopurines (hazard ratio, 0.51; 95% confidence interval, 0.34-0.77; P = 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Thiopurines are effective in preventing surgical recurrence of CD. The role of anti-TNF-α antibodies seems promising as well. Combination therapy of thiopurines and anti-TNF-α antibodies for prevention of surgical recurrence of CD should be studied in a randomized trial.

Original publication




Journal article


Inflamm Bowel Dis

Publication Date





2801 - 2808


Academic Medical Centers, Adolescent, Adult, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Azathioprine, Combined Modality Therapy, Crohn Disease, Cross-Sectional Studies, Drug Combinations, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Mercaptopurine, Postoperative Complications, Prognosis, Retrospective Studies, Secondary Prevention, Survival Rate, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Young Adult