1*Department of Surgery, Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and †Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Surgical management of inflammatory bowel disease is a challenging endeavor given infectious and inflammatory complications, such as fistula, and abscess, complex often postoperative anatomy, including adhesive disease from previous open operations. Patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis also bring to the table the burden of their chronic illness with anemia, malnutrition, and immunosuppression, all common and contributing independently as risk factors for increased surgical morbidity in this high-risk population. However, to reduce the physical trauma of surgery, technologic advances and worldwide experience with minimally invasive surgery have allowed laparoscopic management of patients to become standard of care, with significant short- and long-term patient benefits compared with the open approach. In this review, we will describe the current state-of the-art for minimally invasive surgery for inflammatory bowel disease and the caveats inherent with this practice in this complex patient population. Also, we will review the applicability of current and future trends in minimally invasive surgical technique, such as laparoscopic "incisionless," single-incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS), robotic-assisted, and other techniques for the patient with inflammatory bowel disease. There can be no doubt that minimally invasive surgery has been proven to decrease the short- and long-term burden of surgery of these chronic illnesses and represents high-value care for both patient and society.