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.
- Diagnosis. Your physician uses a variety of tests to check for anemia, abnormal bacteria and infection, and to visualize all or part of your digestive tract, from your mouth to your rectum. These tests involve many digestive diagnostic procedures and include:
- Blood tests count the red and white blood cells and platelets as well as other materials in your blood, including electrolytes. These tests monitor your blood's ability to clot, your nutritional state and the amount of oxygen your blood is carrying.
- Stool cultures detect the presence of bacteria to diagnose an infection of the digestive tract.
- Barium X-rays help your physician visualize and diagnose problems in your gastrointestinal tract. You may undergo an upper gastrointestinal series, a lower gastrointestinal series (Barium Enema) or both. For both procedures you ingest a barium liquid, which coats the inside of your digestive tract. This makes abnormalities stand out on the X-ray image.
- Endoscopic procedures. We use many types of advanced endoscopic procedures to diagnose and treat inflammatory bowel disease. Some of those procedures are:
- Colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is used to view the inside of your colon and look for abnormalities, including bleeding, inflammation, ulcers, polyps and tumors. An advanced form of this test, called chromocolonoscopy, uses dyes to further enhance tissue differentiations and characteristics. Chromocolonoscopy is helpful for taking targeted biopsies in patients with long-term ulcerative colitis who are at higher risk for precancerous polyps.
- Video capsule endoscopy. Your physician may prescribe a video capsule endoscopy to find the source of bleeding from your small intestine. You swallow a pill equipped with a tiny camera that transmits pictures of your intestinal tract as it travels through your digestive system and exits your body.
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). EUS lets your physician obtain better images of the walls of the digestive tract, including your small intestine, colon and rectum. EUS uses sounds waves to create high quality images of your digestive tract and nearby organs. EUS can also be used to obtain cells for a biopsy study or to induce drainage from a duct or abnormal growth (cannulation).
- Double balloon enteroscopy. Balloon enteroscopy uses a push-pull method to move scopes all the way through your intestines. The procedure alternately inflates and deflates balloons inside your intestines. This lets the scope device grab or pull the intestinal wall while pushing the scope through. During a double balloon enteroscopy, samples can be taken from tissues, tumors and polyps. The procedure also allows your physician to treat and cauterize bleeding lesions in your small intestine.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). ERCP is a procedure done through an endoscope to identify ulcers, bleeding or tumors in your upper digestive tract. ERCP combines endoscopy and radiology. ERCP can be used to take biopsies, clarify anomalies seen on imaging tests and deliver treatments.
- Stricture dilation. Many of our endoscopic procedures can be used to open or stretch a narrowed or partially blocked part of your intestines, bile or pancreatic ducts. A balloon is inflated inside the affected passageway. The balloon stretches and expands the duct. Your physician can also achieve dilation with a graduated catheter that is passed over a guide wire.
- Medicines. Many different types of medicines are used to treat the symptoms of IBD such as nausea and diarrhea, as well as suppress to your immune system to reduce attacks on healthy intestinal cells. We often use a combination of medicines to put you into remission and keep you there. These types of therapies include anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, antibiotics, immunomodulators and biologics.
- Nutrition. When you have inflammatory bowel disease, it is important to each a healthy diet and to maintain your weight. Some foods can make symptoms worse. Our gastrointestinal dietitians work with you to create a proper eating plan.
- GI psychology. We are the only GI group in Indiana with three full-time gastrointestinal psychologists on faculty. Living with IBD, like living with any chronic medical condition, can cause anxiety, depression or stress. Our GI psychologists help you manage the emotional stress that accompanies this condition.
- Surgery. When complications of IBD cannot be handled medically, surgery can bring relief, but it will not cure IBD. We work with our GI surgeons to decide the best surgery for your specific symptoms. For Crohn’s disease, surgeries may include abscess drainage, opening of strictures, bowel resections or creation of an ostomy, in which part of your intestines is removed and a new way to expel waste is created. For ulcerative colitis, surgery involves removal of the entire colon and rectum (proctocolectomy) with creation of an ileostomy, where the waste is removed through the end of the small intestine. Sometimes the small intestine can be connected to the anal muscles after the colon is removed so that waste can be expelled through the anus rather than through an ostomy. This is called ileoanal anastomosis.
- Research. We are actively involved in testing new medicines, endoscopic procedures and other therapies, such as fecal transplants to treat inflammatory bowel disease or complications such as C difficile infection. Many of the new biologic medicines now available were tested in clinical trials at IU Health.
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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Support Services
Learn more about inflammatory bowel disease treatments at these websites:
A Sampling of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Support Services
Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America
This organization offers information, education and support to patients and families while also funding research for cures and treatments to improve outcomes for people living with inflammatory bowel disease.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
This site of the National Institutes of Health provides extensive information on many Crohn's Disease, tests, treatments and clinical trials.