Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis, causes gastrointestinal symptoms that affect your quality of life, and it may lead to other issues you don’t expect, such as problems in your joints, skin, and eyes. If you struggle with inflammatory bowel disease, the physicians at Suburban Surgical Associates/Suburban Metabolic Institute can collaborate with gastroenterologists to help determine the best course of treatment for your disease. If you have questions, call one of our offices in Berwyn, or La Grange, Illinois, or request an appointment online.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a group of disorders caused by chronic inflammation that damages your gastrointestinal tract. The two most common types of IBD are:
Ulcerative colitis typically affects the colon (large intestine) and rectum. The damaged area can occur anywhere but often begins in the rectum and spreads proximally into the colon. Inflammation is limited to the lining of the colon and rectum.
Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere in your gastrointestinal tract, from your mouth to your anus, but it most often affects the last parts of your small intestine. Inflammation occurs in patches that may penetrate deep into the walls of the intestine.
The symptoms you’ll develop depends on the area of your intestinal tract that’s affected and the severity of inflammation. IBD is chronic but intermittent, so your symptoms may go into remission, then flare up again to cause significant discomfort.
Whether you have Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease, you may experience:
If inflammatory bowel disease is suspected, the workup typically involves abdominal imaging, such as a CT scan, or endoscopic tests, such as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), upper endoscopy, or a colonoscopy. These tests assess the location and degree of inflammation.
During these endoscopic examinations, abnormal areas of inflammation can be biopsied to confirm the diagnosis, assess severity, and to evaluate for precancerous or cancerous changes.
Much of the care for IBD is medical, and a gastroenterologist will usually direct the management of your disease. But when the disease becomes unresponsive to medical management or other complications arise, then surgery may be recommended.
The surgeons at Suburban Surgical Associates/Suburban Metabolic Institute will collaborate with your gastroenterologist to help determine the best course of action for you.
Treatments for Ulcerative Colitis
Chronic medications, under the direction of a treating gastroenterologist, can treat ulcerative colitis.
However, sometimes, symptoms and complications can develop despite aggressive medical therapy, or cancerous tumors or precancerous polyps may develop, even under the watchful eye of a gastroenterologist performing frequent colonoscopies. In those cases, surgery can effectively eliminate or cure ulcerative colitis, but it requires removing your entire colon and rectum.
Our surgeons often approach this laparoscopically, a minimally invasive procedure that can help minimize scarring and expedite recovery. Often, the surgery involves creating a J-pouch, or a neo-rectum out of the portion of small intestine attached to the anus, which can help improve bowel function after surgery.
In most cases, surgery happens in stages where the resection is reconnection is performed with a temporary ileostomy, which is later reversed three to six months after the first operation.
Treatments for Crohn’s Disease
As with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease is also treated with anti-inflammatory medications under the guidance of a gastroenterologist. However, roughly half of the people with Crohn’s disease will require at least one surgery to relieve symptoms or complications of Crohn’s disease, but it isn’t a cure.
During surgery for Crohn’s disease, your surgeon may resect or repair the affected part of your intestinal tract and are usually able to reconnect the surrounding healthy sections. It’s important to understand the disease can often recur near the original site, or at a distal site, so close follow-up is imperative.