Aim : To evaluate the safety and long-term efficacy of per-endoscopic hydrostatic balloon dilatation in a retrospective series of patients with Crohn's disease.

Methods : Thirty-eight patients had balloon dilatation for intestinal symptomatic strictures which were located as follows: ileo-colonic (26) or colocolic (2) anastomosis, colon (4), ileum (3), proximal jejunum (1) and ileo-caecal valve (5); three patients had two strictures accessible to dilatation. The mean length of the strictures was 2.1 cm (s.d., 0.3 cm).

Results: Thirty-two of the 38 patients were successfully dilated and followed for a median of 22.8 months (0.2–103 months) until surgery or last news. The probabilities of obstructive symptom recurrence were 36% at 1 year and 60% at 5 years. Twelve patients had a second dilatation, and three a third. The probabilities of surgery for stricture were 26% at 1 year and 43% at 5 years. Results were not influenced by age, sex, activity of the disease, passage of the stricture by the colonoscope or concomitant medical therapies. Complications occurred in 9.4% of the 53 dilatation sessions, with only one perforation.

Conclusions : Hydrostatic balloon dilatation is effective for Crohn's symptomatic strictures, and can avoid or postpone surgery, with an acceptable rate of complications.