Crohn's disease is one of the major forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It results in the chronic (long-lasting) inflammation of the lining of your gastrointestinal (digestive) tract. This inflammation most often causes abdominal pain and severe diarrhea. It can even lead to malnutrition and life-threatening complications.
Unlike ulcerative colitis, which affects only the colon, Crohn’s can cause inflammation in any part of the digestive tract —anywhere from your mouth to the very end of your intestines.
Crohn’s disease symptoms
Crohn’s affects each person differently. While abdominal symptoms are common, many patients will experience other, non-gastrointestinal symptoms. You should see your doctor if you experience any major changes with your bowel habits, or if you have any of the following signs and symptoms of Crohn’s:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood in your stool
- Rectal pain
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
Diagnosing Crohn’s disease at the Henry Ford IBD Center
Successful treatment of Crohn's disease first requires an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will provide one or more tests, such as an endoscopy, colonoscopy, small bowel endoscopy, or small bowel imaging to pinpoint your inflammation and determine its severity. These tests will also help us rule out other conditions that have very similar symptoms and to evaluate whether you are at increased risk for developing colon cancer.
Non-surgical treatment for Crohn’s disease
There's no known cure for Crohn’s disease, but therapies are available that can dramatically reduce your symptoms:
- Advanced medical therapies: There are several medications that have shown to reduce inflammation and allow bowel tissue to heal. The main medications for this disease are 5-aminosalicylate agents, steroids, immunomodulators, and biologic agents. Learn more about our research and clinical trials.
- Nutrition management: Our dedicated nutritionists will work with you to maintain a healthy diet that may improve your symptoms, replace lost nutrients and promote healing.
- Infusion Treatments: We offer on-site and after-hours administration of many medications used to treat IBD, including Entyvio, Remicade, Tysabri, Cimzia and Methotrexate.
Advanced surgical treatment for Crohn’s disease
If medications or other treatments you may have tried have not provided you with significant relief—or if precancerous cells have been detected in your colon—you and your doctor may decide that surgery is the next step in your treatment plan. Advanced surgical procedures for Crohn’s disease at Henry Ford include:
- Strictureplasty—opening up narrowed areas of the intestine
- Resection—removing damaged sections of the small or large bowel
- Colectomy or proctocolectomy—complete removal of the colon or the colon and rectum
Our surgeons specialize in these procedures and perform hundreds of them each year.