What is Crohn’s Colitis?

Often when someone is diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease, they are given a specific diagnosis of either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. However, there are times when the diagnosis may not seem so straight forward. There are other articles on InflammatoryBowelDisease.net that deal specifically with the differences between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, including the parts of the digestive tract affected, the presentation of inflammation within the digestive tract, and the extent to which the layers of the digestive tract wall are impacted. Since these diseases are considered as two separate diagnoses:

What does it mean if you are given a diagnosis of Crohn’s colitis?

In this scenario, Crohn’s disease is the official diagnosis. Crohn’s colitis, also known as granulomatous colitis, is one of five different subcategories of Crohn’s disease based on the location of inflammation. The other types of Crohn’s disease include ileocolitis, ileitis, gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease, and jejunoileitis.1 Not every person who is diagnosed with Crohn’s disease is given a subcategory, even though it is likely that the physician has assigned one of these in the patient’s chart.

When diagnosed with Crohn’s colitis, the term “colitis” simply refers to inflammation being present in the colon.

It does not mean you have also been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.

In Crohn’s disease patients, approximately 60% have some inflammation present in the colon. About half of those individuals also have inflammation elsewhere in the digestive tract, while for the other half the disease is limited to the colon. Although there are differences between Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as mentioned above, it can at times be difficult to differentiate between the two. However, it is important to receive the proper diagnosis of either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis since often the treatment options are different depending on the diagnosis.2 If you ever feel that you do not fully understand a diagnosis or the treatment options given, be sure to ask your physician to explain it further.

The main symptom of Crohn’s colitis is diarrhea, and this subcategory of Crohn’s disease is more likely to result in bloody diarrhea than types where inflammation is only present in the small intestine.

Some possible complications from Crohn’s colitis include the formation of abscesses (pockets of pus that forms in the colon) or fistulas (abnormal connections formed between the colon and other organs) and the narrowing of the colon or an intestinal stricture. The involvement of the perianal region is common for those diagnosed with Crohn’s colitis, as well as issues outside of the digestive tract.3 Those living with Crohn’s disease of the colon are also at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.4

Have you heard this term before? Did you receive enough information from your physician? Share your thoughts and questions below!

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