Up to 3 million Americans live with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a condition that involves inflammation in the lining of the colon, small intestine and other parts of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both forms of IBD. In addition to diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain, IBD can lead to tiredness, decreased appetite, nutritional deficiencies, bowel obstruction and liver damage—making it potentially dangerous. Because nearly half of all patients with IBD will eventually need surgery to treat complications, it is beneficial to have a comprehensive digestive health team like the one at DHI.
Living Better with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBD is a chronic condition. Each patient will experience the disease differently, but generally patients will have flare-ups, receive treatment in the form of medicine or surgery, and then experience remission. Because of the recurrent nature of this disease, having an IBD-experienced medical team in place can reduce the frequency of flare ups, prolong periods of remission, and allow you to participate in normal daily routines and enjoy activities.
The Difference Between Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both considered IBD, but there are a few differences between them. Ulcerative colitis affects the colon and rectum, while Crohn’s disease can involve any part of the digestive tract. With ulcerative colitis, the damaged tissues usually begin in the rectum and may spread upwards into the colon. With Crohn’s disease, damaged tissue can be patchy, with these damaged patches surrounded by healthy tissue.
Finally, ulcerative colitis involves inflammation only in the innermost layer of the colon lining. The inflammation of Crohn’s disease can be spread throughout the walls of the digestive tract. In rare cases, some patients with IBD have what is known as indeterminate colitis (IC). This is when it is too difficult to tell if they have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. However, it is usually possible to diagnose IC as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis later as the disease progresses.
Less Invasive Surgical Options to Treat Crohn’s and Colitis
At any time, patients could experience complications from IBD that require surgery. It is helpful to be treated by an experienced team of doctors who can fully coordinate care for IBD. Dr. Jennifer Seminerio, the DHI gastroenterologist (GI doctor) who treats IBD, shares the same office with the DHI colon and rectal surgeons, making it easy for them to consult about patients’ cases. When surgery is needed, colon and rectal surgeons Dr. Allen Chudzinski and Dr. Haane Massarotti are able to offer minimally invasive procedures for IBD. Instead of a large open incision, patients benefit from surgeries that require only three to five incisions the size of keyholes. The DHI colon and rectal surgeons are even able to offer J-pouch surgery, an advanced procedure that allows patients to live without an external ostomy bag.
Onsite Infusion, Laboratory and Vaccination Services
Patients with IBD often need medical treatment in the form of infusion services, and DHI provides these treatments onsite. DHI also offers onsite laboratory services such as blood tests unique to IBD. And, because it is particularly important for those with IBD to protect themselves against viruses, patients can also be vaccinated for influenza, shingles, pneumonia and human papilloma virus (HPV) right at DHI.