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IBD Treatment and Testing

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes conditions such as Crohn’s disease and colitis that stem from an abnormal immune system response. This reaction causes inflammation in your intestines, leading to diarrhea that comes and goes.

Symptoms may put you at risk for serious medical problems. But help is within reach. Washington University Physicians at Barnes-Jewish Hospital offer the latest Crohn’s disease and colitis treatments.

We have years of experience helping people feel better, even when standard treatments aren’t successful. You have access to the full range of IBD treatments, including new medications and surgery when necessary.

IBD Treatment and Care Monitoring: Why Choose Us?

Our nationally recognized doctors deliver exceptional care for people with colitis or Crohn’s disease. And we lead research that’s uncovering new treatments. You have access to leading therapies, including new Crohn’s disease medications that are only available in leading centers such as ours.

You also benefit from the expertise of multiple IBD specialists, including radiologists and surgeons who care for a high number of people with IBD. We meet regularly to coordinate the tests and treatments that help you feel better. Find an IBD specialist.

IBD Conditions We Treat

Our doctors care for all forms of IBD. We also treat digestive health problems that people with IBD may develop.

Conditions we treat include:

  • Autoimmune enteropathy, which causes severe, watery diarrhea
  • Celiac disease
  • Colitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Eosinophilic gastroenteritis, when food allergies cause inflammation in your intestines
  • Short bowel syndrome, when your intestines can’t absorb nutrients from food

IBD Testing

We deliver an accurate colitis or Crohn’s disease diagnosis using a variety of tests. These tests also help us monitor your response to Crohn’s and colitis treatments. You will most likely receive an endoscopy, which uses a tiny camera to evaluate the lining of your intestines.

We offer many endoscopy options, including:

  • Capsule endoscopy: You swallow a pill with a camera in it, which travels through your intestines, taking pictures. Learn more about capsule endoscopy.
  • Colonoscopy: We pass a long, thin tube with a camera at the tip through your anus to assess your lower intestines. Read more about colonoscopy.
  • Upper endoscopy: We slide a tube with a camera down your throat to assess your upper intestines. Get more information about upper endoscopy

Other tests we use include: 

  • Blood tests: We analyze a blood sample for signs of inflammation or complications, such as malnutrition.
  • Imaging tests: We use tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans to determine the location and severity of the inflammation. 

Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Medications

Our doctors recommend combinations of medications to reduce IBD symptoms. We monitor you through regular follow-up visits to determine whether they are working. 

We can modify your medications or try new ones if you are not getting symptom relief. We keep your treatment moving forward. 

Your care may include new colitis or Crohn’s disease medications that are only available through clinical trials. And we are the only IBD center in the region where they are available. 

Your IBD treatment plan may include:

  • Targeted therapies, which stop biologic processes to prevent inflammation
  • Immunomodulators to regulate immune system activity that can trigger a Crohn’s or colitis flare-up
  • Steroids to control inflammation when you are experiencing a flare-up

Nutrition Therapy for IBD

Our IBD nutritionist helps lower your risk of complications with a personalized nutrition therapy plan.  

Nutrition therapy includes a special diet and approaches to eating that help you:

  • Get the nutrients your body needs
  • Avoid foods that may trigger Crohn’s or colitis flare-ups
  • Find foods that are safe to eat when flare-ups are upsetting your stomach

Your personalized nutrition therapy plan may include lean proteins, such as chicken and fish. These foods are less likely to make symptoms worse during a flare-up. When you experience a symptom flare-up, we also recommend other foods that are easier on your stomach, such as bananas and potatoes.

Pregnancy and IBD: Specialized Care for Women 

Certain IBD medications can make it difficult to get pregnant or are not safe to take during pregnancy. If you wish to start or expand your family, we tailor Crohn’s and colitis treatments to help you have a healthy pregnancy. If you experience a symptom flare-up, we help you get relief with medications that are safe to take during pregnancy. 

Emotional Support From Our GI Psychologist

IBD symptoms and their impact on daily life cause fear and anxiety in many people. But you don’t have to live this way. 

Our gastroenterology (GI) psychologist helps you gain control of your well-being, even if you can’t control your symptoms. Our specialist completed additional training in meeting the unique needs of people with digestive problems. 

Your care may include gut-directed hypnotherapy, during which you achieve a more relaxed state. And when your mind is more at ease, it’s easier to cope with the physical challenges of living with IBD.  

Surgery for Complications of IBD

We may recommend surgery if standard IBD treatments aren’t successful or you experience complications, such as an intestinal blockage. Our colorectal surgeons use techniques that preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. Find out more about our colon and rectal surgery services. 

Surgical procedures include repairing damaged intestinal tissue. In severe cases, we may need to remove your small intestines, large intestines or rectum.

  • If we remove your large intestine or colon: We create an opening on the side of your body through which solid waste empties into a removable pouch.
  • If we remove your rectum: We create a new one using remaining healthy tissue so you can continue to eliminate waste through a bowel movement. 

Preventive Care for People With IBD

When you have IBD, you face a higher risk for infections and other health conditions. We help you stay as healthy as possible with immunizations and screening tests. 

Preventive care for people with IBD includes:

  • Annual physical exam
  • Colon cancer screening test, called a colonoscopy
  • Immunizations for severe infections, including the flu and pneumonia
  • Yearly skin cancer screening from a dermatologist
  • Bone density assessment using a DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan 

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University IBD specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 866.899.0143.

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