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Crohn's  Diagnosis

How is Crohn's Disease diagnosed?

Because of the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease mincing closely those of other inflammatory bowel disorders, it is some times difficult to diagnose. A thorough physical exam and a series of specialized tests may be required to accurately diagnose Crohn’s disease.

Blood tests may need to be done to check for anemia. Anemia may be a sign that there is bleeding in the intestine. Blood tests can also help to determine if a high white cell count is present which could be an indicator that inflammation or an infection exists in the body. Also a physician may order a stool sample. Bleeding inside the GI tract and certain types of intestinal infections can be detected when testing the stool sample.

An upper GI series of x-rays may be taken to look at the small intestine. Normally the patient will drink a barium sulfate solution before the x-rays are taken. The chalky substance costs the intestine. Because barium sulfate is opaque to x-rays it shows up white on x-ray film, revealing inflammation or other abnormalities in the intestine. If these tests indicate Crohn’s Disease may be present, more x rays of both the upper and lower digestive tract may be necessary to see how much of the GI tract is affected by the disease.

It may also be necessary to do a visual exam of the colon by performing a colonoscopy. This test utilizes a small camera attached to a fiber optic type tube that is inserted into the colon through the rectum. The camera has the ability to show actual images of the bowel tissue that can be viewed on a monitor and also recorded for further evaluations. A colonoscopy allows the lining examination of the entire large intestine. Any bleeding or inflammation should be visible during this test. The colonoscopy also can allow for a biopsy, the taking of a small tissue sample, for later evaluation as well.


Complications of Crohn's Disease?

Complications associated with Crohn’s Disease can very from patient to patient. One complication that is common is blockage of the intestine. Blockage occurs due usually as a result of thickening of the intestinal wall. As the inflammation increases and the tissue swells, the passage way narrows. Infections caused by ruptured lesions add to the narrowing as scar tissue is added to the intestinal lining. The lesions or intestinal ulcers can cause corruption of surrounding tissues as well, causing fistulas. Fistulas are caused when corrupted tissue fusses together creating a kind of tunnel or hole between normally separate tissues or organs. These tunnels can occur between the intestine and bladder or other adjacent organs or tissues. The areas round the anus and rectum are often involved in the forming of fistulas. These tunnels often cause infections and can cause greater complications from their formation. Approximately 30% of people with Crohn's Disease develop fistulas. On rare occasion fistulas can be treated with medication, but generally will require surgery.


Lack of proper Nutrition

Not getting the proper nutrition through normal means is another complication of Crohn’s disease. Because of the deterioration of the intestinal lining to absorb nutrients from the passage of normal food products, the patient suffers from lack of proteins and normal calories even though normal balanced intake is provided. Many patients who suffer from Crohn’s Disease often fail to provide themselves with the proper diet due to the pain and discomfort eating normally can cause. Nutritional loss can also be caused by the bowel emptying too frequently, not allowing adequate time for proper digestion of food.

Other complications associated with Crohn’s Disease include arthritis, skin problems, inflammation in the eyes or mouth, kidney stones, gallstones, or other diseases of the liver and bile system.


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