Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) also called regional enteritis. It can affect any part of  the gastrointestinal tract. Risk factors and complications include bowel obstruction and skin rashes such as pyoderma gangrenosum. There is increased risk of bowel cancer due to bowel obstruction. Crohn’s is not an autoimmune disease.

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Crohn’s disease is an uncommon condition and not curable. Because of this the primary goal of treatment of Crohn’s disease is to reduce inflammation. Where corticosteroids may help to improve the disease immunosuppressants are used to decrease inflammation. Medications such as methotrexate or a thiopurine can prevent recurrence of the disease. Inflammation can affect starting from the mouth to the anus. The most commonly affected areas are small intestine and large intestine. Sometimes, surgery is done to remove the inflamed part of the intestine.

Difference between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease

Ulcerative Colitis

Colon wall is thick with rock appearance

colon wall is thin with inflammation

Ulcers are deep and extend to bowel wall

Mucus lining has ulcers and do not extend beyond the inner lining

Inflammation anywhere along the digestive tract

Colon is the affected area

Patchy inflammation

Continuous inflammation

Pain in lower right quadrant

Pain in lower left quadrant

Smokers have high risk

Smokers have low risk

Crohn’s Disease Causes

  • Previous infection
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Environmental causes
  • The immune system

Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

  • Weight loss
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramping and swelling
  • Fever
  • Ulcers in the stomach
  • Malabsorption
  • Recurrent diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain

Diagnosis For Crohn’s Disease

Physical exam This will gather information about the patient’s family history of Crohn’s disease. In addition, physical exam will also indicate abdominal pain and tenderness.

Blood tests Blood tests may be done to check blood protein levels, sedimentation rates, red blood cell counts, body mineral levels and white blood cell counts.

Stool tests These tests are done to check for the presence of blood in stools.

Barium x-ray A barium x-ray will indicate the location and severity of Crohn’s disease.

CT Scan The scan provides detailed images of the pelvis and abdomen and detect abscesses which may otherwise go unnoticed.

Sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy These are essentially done to view the lower part of the digestive tract and assess the severity of the infection.

Video capsule endoscopy A small pill that contains a miniature camera is swallowed and the images relayed to a monitor. This procedure helps diagnose early problems of Crohn’s disease.

Crohns Disease Treatment

Most patients respond to medication. Occasionally surgery may be required to resect a part of the affected intestine causing intestinal blockage.