Health-related quality of life (HRQL) has been shown to improve dramatically shortly after surgery in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our hypotheses were that (1) improved HRQL would be maintained long term in patients after surgery for ulcerative colitis and (2) the improved HRQL in patients with Crohn disease would decline with long-term follow-up.
Consecutive series of patients undergoing surgery for IBD between June 1994 and January 2000 prospectively investigated as a cohort outcomes study.
Data were obtained in 139 patients. The diagnoses were Crohn disease (n = 56) and ulcerative colitis (n = 83).
Patients with Crohn disease underwent resections with or without stricturoplasties; all but 5 patients with ulcerative colitis underwent ileal pouch-anal anastomoses.
Main Outcome Measure
Health status was measured using the Health Status Questionnaire (HSQ) preoperatively and then every 3 months postoperatively.
Preoperative HSQ scores were very low in all 8 scales of the HSQ. Postoperatively, HRQL measures improved significantly (P<.05) both in patients with Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, with scores equal to or better than published scores in the general population. In patients with Crohn disease, the scores improved significantly after surgical resection and steadily increased despite disease recurrence and reoperations. The HRQL at last follow-up was equivalent to the general population. The improvements were statistically significant in patients followed up for more than 1 year in 7 of 8 scales of the HSQ.
These results confirm that HRQL is poor in patients with IBD referred for possible operation. Surgical resection resulted in significant improvement in HRQL. More important, the results were durable. With follow-up up to 6 years, the HRQL in this cohort was equal to or better than norms for the general population both in patients with ulcerative colitis and with Crohn disease. We believe these data justify aggressive surgical intervention in many patients with IBD and support the prospective study of HRQL by surgeons treating patients with chronic diseases.