disease is one of a group of disorders called inflammatory bowel diseases
(IBDs). These illnesses involve inflammation and irritation of the
gastrointestinal (GI) tract and have many symptoms in common. In some cases,
Crohn’s is difficult to distinguish from ulcerative colitis, another
inflammatory bowel disease. The symptoms of Crohn’s also resemble those of
other GI disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, and colon
doctor will need to perform a physical examination and obtain information about
your medical history. He or she will also ask questions about your family
doctor will want to rule out infection and other GI disorders.
is no single test for Crohn’s disease. The diagnosis is based on an evaluation
of your symptoms and results of a number of tests. If your symptoms indicate
that you might have Crohn’s disease, your doctor will probably perform a
variety of tests.
The following tests will help your doctor
determine if you have Crohn’s disease.
tests will indicate if you have anemia (which might occur with GI bleeding) or an
infection. Anemia and infections can both occur either with or without Crohn’s
disease. Their presence or absence alone is not enough to provide a diagnosis.
In conjunction with other test results, blood tests will help your doctor
evaluate your exact condition.
You may be asked to supply a stool sample to test for the
presence of blood or signs of infection. As with blood tests, these results
will be evaluated along with the results of other tests.
A breath test can identify lactose intolerance. When undigested
lactose is metabolized in the colon, bacteria there release hydrogen into the
bloodstream which can then be measured in your breath. You may have lactose
intolerance with or without Crohn’s disease. However, lactose intolerance is
common with Crohn’s disease. If you have Crohn’s disease and lactose
intolerance, consuming milk and milk products can make your symptoms worse.
barium enema is an X-ray of the colon (large intestine) including the rectum.
This test is performed in a doctor's office or a hospital. You will be given an
enema using a special chalky liquid called barium sulfate that coats the large
intestine, allowing for a greater contrast between specific areas and providing
endoscope is a thin flexible tube with a small camera mounted on the end. For
an upper endoscopy, the tube is inserted through the mouth so your doctor can
examine the upper portion of your digestive tract—your mouth, esophagus,
stomach, and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum).
For a colonoscopy, your doctor will use an endoscope
inserted rectally to examine your entire colon. If a biopsy of the colon lining
finds clusters of inflammatory cells (granulomas), it will help to confirm a
diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. You may have Crohn’s disease and not have
granulomas. Furthermore, you may have Crohn’s disease in another part of your
digestive tract that cannot be seen during a colonoscopy.
A sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy but examines
only the sigmoid colon, the last section of your colon.
a colonoscopy, endoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy, your doctor may take small tissue
samples to look at under a microscope. This is called a biopsy. This can
identify different types of inflammation and detect cancer or dysplasia
A computed tomography (CT) scan is a special X-ray that
uses computer technology to create a three dimensional image. You may be asked
to drink a special dye for this procedure. The CT scan helps your doctor assess
the extent and location of disease as well as look for blockages, abscesses
(infection), and fistulas (abnormal tunnels through tissue).
For this procedure, you will swallow a capsule that
contains a camera with a battery, light, and transmitter. As it works its way
through your digestive system, the camera takes pictures and transmits them to
a computer you wear on your belt. When it has finished its journey, it is
passed in your stool. This procedure is generally very safe. However, if you
have an intestinal blockage, the camera may become stuck and need to be removed
surgically. The pictures taken by this procedure are usually not clear enough
for a final diagnosis.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI uses radio waves and magnetic fields to produce
images of your internal organs. It can help your doctor identify areas of
narrowing and inflammation that are common in Crohn’s disease.
Upper GI Series
For an upper GI series, the patient drinks barium and X-rays
are taken of the small intestine.
A diagnosis of Crohn’s disease usually requires a
combination of symptoms and results of some combination of the above tests. Accurate
diagnosis is the first step in treating your illness and relieving your symptoms.