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Crohn’s disease is a recurring inflammatory bowel disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Crohn’s disease most commonly occurs in the ileum (the lower part of the small intestine) and the colon (large intestine), but it can occur anywhere in the GI tract from the mouth to the anus.
WakeMed’s gastroenterologists understand the intricacies of this complex and chronic condition, and we have access to the latest therapies to provide customized treatment for each patient.
Crohn’s disease causes erosions, called ulcers, along the GI tract. In more severe cases, deeper and larger ulcers form.
Crohn’s disease symptoms resulting from these ulcers can be either mild or debilitating. Some patients will experience only mild experiences with the condition, while others will have severe complications. Symptoms can include:
In severe cases, larger ulcers can stiffen in the bowels and cause obstruction (called strictures), or puncture the bowel walls, causing infection in the abdominal cavity and adjacent organs (called fistula). When inflammation is severe, it can also impact other organs in the body, most commonly the joints, liver and skin.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition, and symptoms can come and go over the course of a patient’s life. Some patients experience months or years of remission in between flare ups.
Our experts are experienced in accurately diagnosing Crohn’s disease, which can also present itself like other inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including ulcerative colitis , as well as inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS). We first take a full medical history and perform a physical examination. Diagnostic tests to confirm Crohn’s disease may include:
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease—the goal of treatment is to control inflammation and relieve symptoms of pain and diarrhea.
Medications can not only relieve symptoms, but can also promote the healing of damaged tissue, postpone surgery, keep the disease from flaring up, and even put it in remission.
In severe cases, or when a patient doesn’t respond to medication, surgery may be necessary to remove part or all of the colon. However, because the inflammation of Crohn's disease can be patchy and noncontinuous and can deeply penetrate into the bowel wall, surgery is generally not recommended or effective.
Surgery doesn’t cure Crohn’s disease, and the condition often recurs. However, in cases where surgery is recommended, WakeMed’s patients can benefit from minimally invasive, laparoscopic-assisted surgeries. This allows a patient to have less pain and discomfort, a smaller incision, quicker recovery and fewer complications. Learn more about laparoscopic colorectal surgery.
Since Crohn’s disease can reduce the body's ability to absorb necessary nutrients, talking to a nutritionist can also be helpful. We offer our patients nutrition counseling to help them manage their conditions and make smart nutritional choices.
If you or someone you care for is experiencing symptoms that concern you, we encourage you to make an appointment [MG7] with one of WakeMed’s experienced gastroenterologists.
3000 New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27610