What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract, from the mouth to the anus. It most commonly affects the end of the small intestine (the ileum) where it joins the beginning of the colon. Crohn’s disease may appear in “patches,” affecting some areas of the GI tract while leaving other sections completely untouched. In Crohn’s disease, the inflammation may extend through the entire thickness of the bowel wall of the affected area.
“Crohn’s can be very difficult to diagnose, it took them a year to figure out what was wrong with me. I started to get sick when I was 15 years old but it wasn’t until I was 16 that they told me I had Crohn’s. I am now 26 years old and have tried lots of different medication and have had 3 operations, my most recent being 3 weeks ago. ” – Patient X
Crohn’s Disease and Surgery
Complications of Crohn’s Disease
- Fistula—inflammation can cause ulcers to form on the inside wall of the intestines or other organs. These ulcers can extend through the entire thickness of the bowel wall and form a tunnel (fistula) to another part of the intestine, between the intestine and another organ, or to the skin surface
- Stricture—a narrowing of a section of intestine caused by scarring, which can lead to an intestinal blockage
- Abscess—a collection of pus, which can develop in the abdomen, pelvis, or around the anal area
- Perforated Bowel—chronic inflammation of the intestine may weaken the wall to such an extent that a hole develops
- Malabsorption and Malnutrition
- Nutritional deficiencies—can develop due to an inability to absorb nutrients such as proteins, vitamins, and fats