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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) involves inflammation of the walls and lining of your bowel and intestines. IBD is the result of a dysfunctional immune system that can be caused by an inappropriate reaction of your immune system to your own intestinal bacteria, or an imbalance in your gut bacteria.

There are two forms of IBD:

  • Crohn's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis

Both are lifelong conditions characterized by flare-ups that are followed by periods of remission that can last months or even years. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis tend to appear when you are in your teens or early adulthood. The conditions can affect children and affect both men and women equally. Inflammatory bowel disease also tends to run in families. Physicians do not know the exact cause of either condition, but patients with IBD also have abnormal immune systems. IBD is not the same as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Crohn's disease most often involves inflammation in the ileum, the part of your small intestine that connects to the colon. Crohn’s disease can impact your entire digestive tract, from your mouth to your anus. Inflammation from Crohn’s disease penetrates the full thickness of your intestinal wall. This can cause perforations, strictures and abscesses that cause pain and complications.

Ulcerative colitis is inflammation in the bowel and involves only the colon. It often begins in the rectum and travels part or all of the length of the colon. This condition affects the mucus lining of your colon but does not go into the colon wall.

Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Ulcers in the intestinal lining
  • Inflammation of the eyes, joints and skin

At Indiana University Health, we use a collaborative approach to diagnosing and treating inflammatory bowel disease. We work with gastrointestinal pathologists, gastrointestinal radiologists, gastrointestinal psychologists, dietitians and colorectal surgeons. We use the latest techniques for evaluating your intestines, making a diagnosis and delivering treatment. We are the only group in Indiana with a team of gastroenterologists dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Our affiliation with the IU School of Medicine and the Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology gives our patients access to experts and many endoscopic procedures used to diagnose and treat IBD, including colonoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). The EUS program at IU Health is one of the highest volume centers in the country, with more than 2,500 investigations performed each year. We are also the only physicians in Indiana who offer double balloon endoscopy, a procedure that allows us to examine the entire intestine.

Our research efforts put us at the forefront of new therapies, including biologic medicines and fecal transplants.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment Information

When you are diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, you want to feel better. We offer the latest medicines and treatments to manage your symptoms, keep you healthy and maintain remission so you can enjoy your regular activities.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Locations & Physicians

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Find a Specialist

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Support Services

Learn more about inflammatory bowel disease treatments at these websites: