Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly involving the small bowel (terminal ileum) and the large bowel (colon). The inflammation may be anywhere from the mouth to the anus, and “skip lesions” (areas of inflammation separated by normal areas) are characterisitic. See also Ulcerative colitis. See also irritable bowel syndrome.


Crohn’s usually presents with:

Chronic diarrhoea with urgency / incontinence

Abdominal cramping

Fever, loss of appetite, weight loss

The onset of symptoms may be abrupt or insidious and the symptoms are often characterised by flare-ups and remissions.


Diagnosis is mainly on history and on tests such as:

Blood tests

Barium swallow - Following the progress of a barium meal by X-ray through the bowels

Colonoscopy – Direct visualization of the large bowel with a long flexible tube

Biopsy – Removal of a small sample of tissue during colonoscopy, for microscopic examination

Medical treatment

Sulphasalazine to reduce inflammation

Steroids (eg Prednisolone) to reduce inflammation

Antibiotics (eg Metronidazole) to reduce infection

Immunosuppressive drugs (eg cyclosporin) in severe cases

Surgical treatment for cases where tablets are not enough

Colectomy (removal of the large bowel)

Strictureplasty – To open obstructions



The cause is unknown.

The disease is most commonly first diagnosed in people between 15 and 30 years of age, and it is equally common in men and women.


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