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Testing for Crohn's disease

Crohn's disease is a debilitating chronic disease that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly in the small intestine. Despite hundreds of thousands of sufferers around the world living with the problem, as yet there is no single test to diagnose the disease.

To confirm the presence of Crohn's disease in a patient, the doctor would typically conduct a number of tests such as:

  • Blood: to show signs of infection, anaemia or inflammation
  • Stool: to help reveal early signs of the disease
  • Imaging: An X-ray or CT scan could give a clear insight into the patient's internal structures.

One of the most popular and common ways however is to conduct an endoscopic procedure of the upper gastrointestinal track or a colonoscopy to visualise the lower tract.

For the GI track, the doctor would use a highly flexible and illuminated tube with a tiny camera on the end. This would then pass through the oesophagus and into the stomach and small intestine. The camera would then relay images back to the doctor enabling them to see inside the patient so they can examine any signs of Crohn's. Sometimes a patient might need have to use the capsule endoscopy method, which sees them swallow a tiny capsule which captures images all the way through the body.

If the former procedure does not show any signs of infection then the patient would typically undergo a colonoscopy which allows the doctor to see inside the rectum and large intestine. Once the diagnosis is complete, the doctor would be able to confirm Crohn's Disease and begin to prescribe a treatment procedure for the patient.

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