What is a stricture?

Stricture is a narrowing of part of the intestine because of scar tissue in its wall.

Strictures are more commonly seen in Crohn’s disease than in ulcerative colitis. In Crohn’s disease, 25% of patients have had at least one stricture in their small intestine and 10% have had a stricture in their large intestine.

Strictures can lead to major complications, such as intestinal obstruction. Stricture can also cause loss of response to biologic treatments.

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Causes of stricture

In IBD, chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to stricture. Stricture can be diagnosed using ultrasound, CT, MRI, or endoscopy.

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Treatment of strictures in IBD

Some patients with stricture will require surgery. If the area of narrowing has some ongoing inflammation, medications may help to relieve blockage.

One procedure that can help is called endoscopy with balloon dilatation. This is where your gastroenterologist advances a balloon through a colonoscope to dilate or widen the narrowed part of the intestine. This procedure is not always possible depending on the characteristics of the stricture, and repeat dilations may be needed.

Surgery may be required if stricture cause significant blockage or unmanageable symptoms.

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