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Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease causes frequent bouts of diarrhea that can make daily life unpredictable. But you don’t have to let this slow you down. Washington University Physicians at Barnes-Jewish Hospital help improve your symptoms so you can stay active. 

We develop a lasting relationship with you that starts with your first appointment. You’ll receive effective Crohn’s disease treatments, including medications only available at select centers nationwide. Our team offers a level of care that can help put you back in control of your life.

What Is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is one of many forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This group of conditions stems from an abnormal immune system response that causes inflammation in your intestines. With Crohn’s disease, the inflammation occurs in any part of your intestines but typically affects your small intestine or colon. 

You may experience periods of:

  • Remission, where you don’t have any Crohn’s symptoms
  • Crohn’s flares, during which you experience abdominal cramping, diarrhea and other symptoms

Crohn’s Disease Care: Why Choose Us?

Our team includes nationally recognized Crohn’s experts. Our research is advancing the field of Crohn’s disease, giving you access to new treatments and care practices before they’re widely available.

And we work alongside other specialists, including IBD nutritionists and colorectal surgeons, radiologists and pathologists. Our team coordinates services that help you receive the best possible treatment. Find an IBD specialist.

You’ll find: 

  • Personalized care: The symptoms you experience can vary over time, which is why we tailor care to meet your changing needs. We stay in touch with you through regular follow-up visits, adjusting treatments whenever necessary. Learn more about IBD treatments and tests.
  • Easy access to our team: If you are experiencing sudden or severe symptoms, we see you within a few days. Doctors and nurses specializing in IBD are available by phone on weekdays. A member of our team is always on call, so you can receive the help you need during weekends or evenings. We also coordinate same-day hospital visits whenever necessary.
  • Advanced care: We successfully manage many Crohn’s disease complications, including tears in the lining of the intestines. We use sophisticated diagnostic tests, such as magnetic resonance enterography (MRE), which produces detailed images of your small intestine. If you need surgery, our experienced colorectal surgeons perform expert procedures. 

Crohn’s Disease Symptoms and Complications

Common Crohn’s disease symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Urgent need to use the bathroom
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue

Ongoing inflammation from Crohn’s disease can lead to complications such as:

  • Malnutrition, caused by not getting enough nutrients to be healthy
  • Blockages and tears in the lining of your intestines
  • Abscesses, which occur when an infection causes a collection of pus to form within the walls of your intestines
  • Fistulas, which happen when an abscess grows large enough to create an abnormal connection between your intestines and other nearby organs

Diagnosing Crohn’s Disease

We provide an accurate diagnosis so you can get the care you need. We do a thorough assessment to pinpoint the source of the inflammation. Our Crohn’s disease doctors ask questions about your medical history and perform a physical exam. 

Certain tests and procedures help us learn more about your symptoms:

  • Blood tests: We examine a sample of your blood for signs of inflammation or malnutrition.
  • Colonoscopy: Doctors assess the lining of your colon using a long tube that has a light and camera at the tip.
  • Biopsy: Pathologists specializing in digestive disorders examine the tissue samples from your intestines under a microscope. Their findings help us confirm or rule out a Crohn’s diagnosis.
  • Enterography study: We perform an imaging test to assess the upper and lower parts of your digestive tract (the small and large intestines). You may receive either a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Special dye you drink or we inject before the test helps us see the fine details of your intestines.  

Crohn’s Disease Treatments

Each person experiences Crohn’s differently, which is why we personalize treatments to meet your needs. 

Common Crohn’s disease treatments include: 

  • Medications: People with Crohn’s often take several medications. Many people take steroids in the short term to quiet biologic processes that cause inflammation. For long-term relief, our team works together to find the combination of medications that help you live a good quality of life. Your care may include biologics, immunomodulators or small molecule medications.
  • Nutrition therapy: There is no special diet for Crohn’s disease. But eating the right foods helps you meet your nutritional needs. Our IBD nutritionist teaches you which foods to eat as well as eating techniques to lower your risk of certain symptoms. For example, drinking slowly and without a straw prevents you from swallowing air that could lead to painful gas.
  • Support: Your care may include emotional support from a gastrointestinal (GI)-focused psychologist, who specializes in digestive problems. For women who wish to become pregnant, we develop an effective IBD treatment plan that is safe for you and the baby.

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University IBD specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.

2023 Best Hospitals - Gastroenterology and GI Surgery

#29 in the Nation (Tie) by U.S. News & World Report

Find a doctor or make an appointment: 866.867.3627
General Information: 314.747.3000
One Barnes-Jewish Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63110
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