Inflammatory Bowel Disease
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a group of conditions, including Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis, which cause chronic inflammation in all or part of the digestive tract.
Crohn's disease causes inflammation anywhere along the lining of the digestive tract, and often spreads deep into affected tissues. This can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and excessive weight loss. The inflammation caused by Crohn's disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people.
Ulcerative colitis involves inflammation of the lining of the large bowel (colon and rectum), and can cause rectal bleeding, diarrhea, severe abdominal cramps, weight loss and fever. Patients who have had extensive ulcerative colitis for many years are an increased risk to develop bowel cancer.
What are the treatments for IBD?
The goal of inflammatory bowel disease treatment is to reduce the inflammation that triggers your signs and symptoms. In the best cases, this may lead not only to symptom relief but also to long-term remission. IBD treatment usually involves either drug therapy or surgery. Anti-inflammatory drugs are often the first step in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
Surgery for ulcerative colitis: Surgery can often eliminate ulcerative colitis. Surgery usually involves removing the entire colon (colectomy) or the entire colon and the rectum (proctocolectomy). In the past, after this surgery patients would permanently wear a small bag over an opening in the abdomen (ileostomy) to collect stool. But procedures now allow for the ostomy bag to be temporary. Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis (IPAA), also called restorative proctocolectomy, does not require patients to have permanent stomas. This process is completed in two surgeries. The colon and rectum are removed, and the small intestine is used to form an internal pouch, called a J-pouch. The J-Pouch serves as the new rectum. It is connected to the anus and allows the patient to pass waste more normally.
Surgery for Crohn's disease: In Crohn's disease, surgery can provide years of remission at best. At the least, it may provide a temporary improvement in signs and symptoms. During surgery, the surgeon removes a damaged portion of the digestive tract and then reconnects the healthy sections. In addition, surgery may also be used to close fistulas and drain abscesses. A common procedure for Crohn's is stricturoplasty, which widens a segment of the intestine that has become too narrow.