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Even though blood tests alone can’t diagnose ulcerative colitis, they’re an important tool in diagnosis and monitoring of the disease. These are only some of the blood tests used for UC. There are others your doctor may recommend.
These are used to detect infection, anemia (caused by bleeding), indicators of inflammation, and to identify deficiencies of vitamins or minerals.
Samples of stool may be tested for pathogenic bacteria and certain markers of inflammation. Your doctor will give you a container for collecting and storing the stool.
These are tests that take pictures of different parts of your body to provide a clearer view of your condition. They show your doctor areas of disease activity and possible complications. These are only some of the imaging tests used for UC. There are others your doctor may recommend.
A standard X-ray of your abdominal area can show narrowing, widening, or development of a perforation of the intestines or an intestinal blockage—possibly from inflammation or scarring. It may also be done to rule out certain UC complications.
This diagnostic test allows your doctor to evaluate your intestine by tracking the movement of a thick, chalky liquid called barium. The barium dye coats the lining of the bowel—creating a silhouette of your rectum, colon, and a portion of your intestine that’s visible on an X-ray.
A CT scan takes a series of X-rays at different levels to create a cross-sectional image of the bowel—as well as images of tissues outside the bowel that can’t be seen with other tests. CT scans help your doctor diagnose your UC and determine the location and extent of your disease. They can also help check for potential complications and rule out conditions with similar symptoms.
White blood cells are drawn to the site of inflammation in the body. This test tracks your white blood cells to determine how much inflammation your UC may be causing in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
This test uses a thin, flexible tube with a lighted camera inside the tip (called an endoscope) that allows your doctor to explore different parts of your GI tract. This technique includes tests like:
An endoscopy may be combined with ultrasound. An ultrasound probe is attached to the endoscope to create specialized images of the wall of your esophagus or stomach—or to create images of hard-to-reach organs, such as your pancreas. Newer endoscopes use high-definition video to provide very clear images.
A large magnet and radio waves help doctors look at organs and structures inside your body. MRI is very helpful in diagnosing and managing ulcerative colitis.
Found in blood (and other body fluids or tissues) are biological molecules called biomarkers. These molecules are a sign of a normal or abnormal process—or of a condition or disease. At the same time, biomarkers can assist in seeing how well a person's body is responding to treatment.
Ways Biomarkers Can Help With UC Monitoring
Your doctor relies on what you tell him or her to get the full picture of how your disease is affecting your life. Use resources like the Doctor Discussion Guide to help make appointments go a little more seamlessly.
Learn about treatment options for ulcerative colitis.
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*Eligibility restricted to patients diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.