Hospitalisation and surgery are considered to be markers of more severe disease in Crohn's disease. These are costly events and limiting these costs has emerged as one rationale for the cost of expensive biologic therapies. The authors sought to review the most recent international literature to estimate current hospitalisation and surgery rates for Crohn's disease and place them in the historical context of where they have been, whether they have changed over time, and to compare these rates across different jurisdictions. It is in this context that the authors could set the stage for interpreting some of the early data and studies that will be forthcoming on rates of hospitalisation and surgery in an era of more aggressive biologic therapy. The most recent data from Canada, the United Kingdom and Hungary all suggest that surgical rates were falling prior to the advent of biologic therapy, and continue to fall during this treatment era. The impact of biologic therapy on surgical rates will have to be analysed in the context of evolving reductions in developed regions before biologic therapy was even introduced. Whether more aggressive medical therapy will decrease the requirement for surgery over long periods of time remains to be proven.