Inflammatory bowel diseases are an ideal indication for the laparoscopic surgical approach as they are basically benign diseases not requiring lymphadenectomy and extended mesenteric excision; well-established surgical procedures are available for the conventional approach. Inflammatory alterations and fragility of the bowel and mesentery, however, may demand a high level of laparoscopic experience. A broad spectrum of operations from the rather easy enterostomy formation for anal Crohn’s disease (CD) to restorative proctocolectomies for ulcerative colitis (UC) may be managed laparoscopically. The current evidence base for the use of laparoscopic techniques in the surgical therapy of inflammatory bowel diseases is presented. CD limited to the terminal ileum has become a common indication for laparoscopic surgical therapy. In severe anal CD, laparoscopic stoma formation is a standard procedure with low morbidity and short operative time. Studies comparing conventional and laparoscopic bowel resections, have found shorter times to first postoperative bowel movements and shorter hospital stays as well as lower complication rates in favour of the laparoscopic approach. Even complicated cases with previous surgery, abscess formation and enteric fistulas may be operated on laparoscopically with a low morbidity. In UC, restorative proctocolectomy is the standard procedure in elective surgery. The demanding laparoscopic approach is increasingly used, however, mainly in major centers; its feasibility has been proven in various studies. An increased body mass index and acute inflammation of the bowel may be relative contraindications. Short and long-term outcomes like quality of life seem to be equivalent for open and laparoscopic surgery. Multiple studies have proven that the laparoscopic approach to CD and UC is a safe and successful alternative for selected patients. The appropriate selection criteria are still under investigation. Technical considerations are playing an important role for the complexity of both diseases
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