Our specialists treat a variety of digestive diseases with the goal of helping patients feel normal again.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the name for a group of conditions that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most common types of IBD.
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Crohn’s and Colitis Program is the first of its kind in Texas. It features a collaborative team of gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons, pathologists, imaging specialists, and nurses, as well as basic science researchers who continually seek new information about the nature of these diseases and new ways to improve treatment outcomes for patients.
Inflammation of the intestinal tract, which often leads to ulcers, fistulae, or obstructions, characterizes IBD. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus, while ulcerative colitis strikes the inner lining of the large intestine or the rectum.
Without proper management of these diseases, patients can suffer from abdominal pain, anemia, diarrhea, weight loss, malnutrition, and cancer.
Comprehensive Care for All Types of IBD
UT Southwestern Medical Center’s inflammatory bowel disease team is led by gastroenterologists who have specific expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions of the intestines, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and microscopic colitis.
Among the conditions we routinely help manage are:
- Crohn’s disease, including ileal, colonic, perianal, and upper GI
- Ulcerative colitis
- Ulcerative proctitis
- Intestinal strictures
- Fistulas in the GI tract
- Colonic dysplasia (precancerous lesions in the colon)
- Pouch disorders/pouchitis
- Microscopic colitis
- Collagenous colitis
- Lymphocytic colitis
- Short bowel syndrome
We often collaborate with specialists in other areas of expertise, including colorectal surgery, radiology, liver disease, interventional endoscopy, pancreaticobiliary disease, dermatology, rheumatology, and motility disorders, in order to provide comprehensive care. To best treat our patients, we also hold regular monthly multidisciplinary case conferences to discuss particularly challenging cases. We also have several clinic trials in which we can enroll patients with IBD.
Symptoms of IBD
Symptoms of IBD can vary, depending on the type of disease, the location of the inflammation, and the individual patient. Common symptoms include:
- Frequent and persistent abdominal pain
- Frequent and persistent diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
If our team suspects inflammatory bowel disease, we first obtain a symptom assessment and conduct a thorough physical examination. We then talk with the patient about his or her medical and family history and, depending on the examination results, might perform any of several diagnostic tests.
Endoscopic tests might include:
- Upper endoscopy
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Video capsule endoscopy
Blood and stool tests might also be performed to help confirm a diagnosis.
Treating IBDThe goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation, which can reduce symptoms. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the inflammation, the location of the inflammation, and the patient’s unique needs.
Medications that are used to treat IBD include:
- Aminosalicylates: Anti-inflammatory medications that can be given either orally or rectally
- Corticosteroids: Steroids that help to keep the immune system in check and reduce inflammation; while effective in the short-term, these are not recommended for long-term use
- Immunomodulators: Medications that change how the immune system functions so it can no longer cause inflammation
- Antibiotics: Sometimes used if an infection is also present with IBD
- Therapeutic antibodies and novel small molecules: Sometimes called biologics, these new treatments help people with moderate or severe IBD
Nutritional support (also called nutritional therapy) can also be useful for patients with IBD.
Surgery is sometimes used in severe cases that do not respond to medication. Surgical treatments for IBD include:
- Hand-assisted surgeries
- J-Pouch procedures
- Laparoscopic proctocolectomies
- Laparoscopic total colectomy
- Large and small bowel resection (colectomy)
- Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery
Learn more about surgery for IBD.