IBD Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to avoid long-term complications. Unfortunately, there’s no single test to diagnose IBD. The diagnosis is usually established using a combination of blood work, endoscopy including colonoscopy (camera scope tests), and X-ray tests.

Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and do some blood tests.

Amongst other tests, the blood tests will check for anemia (low blood counts), inflammation markers to gauge the severity of bowel inflammation and blood iron/vitamin levels to ensure your body is absorbing adequate nutrients.

Stool tests

Check for abnormal inflammation or infection in your digestive tract that may cause diarrhea. To do this, a small stool sample is taken and sent to a lab.

Endoscopy or camera scope tests

Colonoscopy. This test looks at the full length of your large intestine. It can help check for any abnormal growths, tissue that is red or swollen, sores (ulcers), or bleeding. A flexible tube with a camera and light at its end called a colonoscope is put into your rectum up into the colon. This tube lets your healthcare provider see your colon lining and take out a tissue sample (biopsy) to test it.  The procedure is performed under sedation.

Upper endoscopy, also called EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy). This test looks at the inside or lining of your food pipe (esophagus), stomach, and the top part of your small intestine (duodenum). A flexible tube with a camera and light at its end called an upper endoscope is put into your mouth and throat. Then it goes into your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Your healthcare provider can see the inside of these organs. He or she can also take a small tissue sample (biopsy) if needed. The procedure is performed under sedation.

Biopsy. Your healthcare provider will take out a tissue sample or cells from the lining of your colon. This will be checked under a microscope.

X-ray tests

This includes the use of CAT scan and MRI to take pictures of the intestines and other digestive organs to look for inflammation, narrowing or abnormal connections between organs (fistula).

Treatment

There is no cure for IBD. However, there are now more effective treatment choices for IBD than ever before. These treatments help control inflammation and avoid long term bowel damage. Occasionally, resection of affected bowel becomes necessary if the response to medications is inadequate. Fortunately, our colorectal surgeons bring knowledge and experience in IBD surgery including minimally invasive surgery. We will help you navigate treatment decisions and ensure you have a management plan tailored to your specific needs.

In general medications for IBD work by suppressing the body’s immune response to its own organs. The most commonly prescribed drugs for IBD are:

Corticosteroids such as prednisone are good medications to treat bowel inflammation in the short term but long-term use (beyond 2-3 months) is associated with side effects

Aminosalicylates such as sulfasalazine and mesalamine. These are anti-inflammatory drugs.

Immunomodulator drugs such as 6-mercaptopurine and azathioprine.

Antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin and Metronidazole are usually used for few days to few weeks usually to treat infections that complicate IBD such as abdominal abscess (pus collection).

Biologics are reserved for patients who have moderate to severe IBD. These treatments are called biologics because, unlike chemical medications, they are produced using living microorganisms. Biologics have an advantage compared to other IBD medications in that they are selective in blocking key inflammation steps in IBD. Biologics include infliximab, adalimumab, certolizumab, golimumab, vedolizumab and ustekinumab. Several other biologics are currently undergoing trials, hopefully increasing treatment options in the near future.

Jak Inhibitors such as tofacitinib

For additional information please visit the Crohn’s and Colitis foundation website where you will find accurate educational material on medications used for IBD in addition to other helpful patient resources.

 

Contact Us

825 NE 10th Street, OU Physicians Building, Suite 4300
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73104

For patients

  • To make an appointment please call our office number 405-271-8478
  • If you interested in participating in our clinical trials please contact

Camille Dennis, R.N. Research Coordinator

Phone: 405-271-8001 Ext. 53424 

Email: camille-dennis@ouhsc.edu

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