Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis

At GI Care for Kids, we care for many children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our experienced physicians are nationally known for providing comprehensive and cutting-edge treatment for our patients and for the important research we are doing to improve the care of children and adults with IBD worldwide. In addition, our entire office staff participates in activities to help the care of patients with IBD, including volunteering at Camp Oasis (a camp for IBD children and teens) as well as at fundraising charities. Furthermore, our physicians have been recognized with awards for their treatment and support of our IBD patients. To deliver the best care, we participate in research projects testing new treatments and new diagnostic methods for IBD.

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease is a lifelong group of illnesses with swelling, redness, and changes of the intestinal surface involving various parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This is not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is also known as spastic colon. Typically, IBD is divided into two categories, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Although there may be overlapping features, the two types of IBD have important differences. Ulcerative colitis (UC) often causes bloody diarrhea. UC affects either a portion of the colon or the entire colon. In some individuals, IBD causes problems outside of the gastrointestinal tract including arthritis (joint swelling), skin diseases, and liver problems.

Crohn's disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract but most frequently results in inflammation of the ileum (the final part of the small intestine) along with portions of the colon. Additionally, individuals with Crohn's disease often have direct involvement of the area around the anus. Crohn's disease tends to "skip" over some areas of the intestine whereas inflamed areas due to UC are continuous (no skip areas). Frequent symptoms and signs with Crohn's disease include abdominal pain, delayed puberty, anemia, and mouth sores. Many children with Crohn's disease are diagnosed after having symptoms for a long time as Crohn's disease can cause gradual changes in a person's health. Because Crohn's disease involves the small intestine, it is much more likely to cause poor growth. Unfortunately, there is no single, simple test to diagnose the disease.

How is Inflammatory Bowel Disease diagnosed?

Many diseases can be confused with both types of IBD. Diagnosis usually requires upper endoscopy and colonoscopy along with bloodwork and stool tests. Additional x-ray studies or a pill camera may be helpful in establishing the diagnosis and monitoring the course of the disease. There is a great deal of information about these disorders available at the websites listed below.

If you are worried that your child has IBD, please make sure that you bring all of your child's growth records and previous evaluation to your first visit at GI Care for Kids. Together we can determine if IBD is present and the optimal treatment of your child.

Additional information can be obtained from these websites:

Websites for patients with Crohn's disease and UC:

Handouts on medications frequently used in IBD:

Amazon.com link to a resourceful book for families with a child with IBD:

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