Identifying Crohn’s Disease

Chron’s Disease (CD) is a type of inflammatory bowel disease characterized by transmural inflammation of the bowel. Although CD can involve any segment of the GI tract, the ileum and cecum’s involvement is most common. If this occurs, the patient’s symptoms would include right lower abdominal pain, fever, and watery diarrhea. Fistula formation caused by abscesses often complicates CD. Crohn’s disease may also present more subtle symptoms such as mild diarrhea, crampy abdominal pain, and weight loss. 

These symptoms are often thought to be due to irritable bowel syndrome, and months may pass before the diagnosis of CD is made. Because of the variability of Crohn’s involvement, multiple symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and fever may occur. These symptoms should be addressed by a GI specialist with expertise in diagnosing CD.

With the introduction of multiple biologic agents, the treatment of CD has greatly improved. Prior to their introduction, treatment was limited to corticosteroids and immune modulators, which were often ineffective. The resulting clinical scenario was multiple operations with resulting complications, including malabsorption, chronic abdominal pain, anemia, and malnutrition. 

After a thorough investigation and discussion with a GI MD who treats Crohn’s disease, a treatment plan tailored to the patient’s specific needs can be started. The success rate of any biologic achieving endoscopic remission is 30% to 40%. Because of the number of biologics currently available, multiple options exist. A GI specialist can monitor this.