No. While Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis have some similarities—both being inflammatory bowel diseases and causing inflammation—they’re different in important respects.
Some of the differences between Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis include:
UC INFLAMMATION usually starts in the rectum and lower colon, and it can spread continuously to the entire colon.
CROHN’S INFLAMMATION can penetrate the bowel wall and appear in patches in the entire GI tract.
PEOPLE WITH UC can often have bloody stools.
PEOPLE WITH CROHN'S don’t usually see blood in their stools.
PEOPLE WITH UC may feel pain on the left side, while the specific location depends on the type of UC.
PEOPLE WITH CROHN'S typically feel pain on the lower right part of the abdomen.
If you have recurring symptoms, it is best to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist who specializes in treating IBD.
If they suspect that you may have ulcerative colitis, they’ll likely perform certain tests and procedures to help confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Here are some of the more common diagnostic tests:
Doctors rely on visual evidence to diagnose ulcerative colitis. Imaging tests provide a clearer view of where ulcerative colitis is active in the colon and spot possible complications. Some imaging tests for ulcerative colitis that are used for diagnosis and monitoring are listed below—but there are others your doctor may recommend.
Endoscopy uses a thin, flexible tube with a lighted camera inside the tip (called an endoscope) that allows doctors to explore different parts of the colon. An endoscopy can show signs of inflammation and help your gastroenterologist determine the severity of ulcerative colitis. It’s also an important test in helping doctors monitor UC activity over time.
Endoscopy can also include tests like:
An endoscopy may be combined with an ultrasound. An ultrasound probe is attached to the endoscope to create specialized images deep down in the intestines.
This uses a capsule containing a tiny video camera, an LED light, a radio transmitter, and a battery. The capsule is swallowed, and as it travels through the intestines, the camera takes pictures that are sent to a computer. A doctor views the images to check for signs of ulcerative colitis. What happens to the capsule? It passes through the stool.
During an endoscopy, a doctor can take a biopsy, which is the removal and examination of a small piece of tissue. The examination happens after the endoscopy and looks at cells to see if inflammation is occurring, even if the tissue appears normal on the surface.
When your doctor needs to evaluate a larger portion of your intestine or outside the bowel, radiologic exams or diagnostic imaging like these tests will be performed.
A large magnet and radio waves help doctors look at internal organs and their structures, including muscles, soft tissue, and the brain. It does so without subjecting the body to radiation and can provide a clear picture of the body, showing impacts of the disease beyond the intestine.
Even though blood and stool tests alone can’t diagnose ulcerative colitis, they’re important tools in diagnosing and monitoring it. Below are some of the tests used for ulcerative colitis.
When you visit a doctor, they can administer a type of test called indexes. These tests may include a list of questions about your health but also information related to physical findings of ulcerative colitis.
The Mayo Score is an index for ulcerative colitis. It has a set of questions for a patient and a set of questions for their doctor. Answers are rated on a scale of 1-3. The final score helps a doctor to determine the severity of your ulcerative colitis.
Yes. There are three types based on how much of the colon is affected: proctitis, left-sided colitis, and extensive colitis (pancolitis). Each one can affect you in different ways. Make sure to talk to a doctor about any symptoms you may be experiencing so they can determine the specific type of ulcerative colitis you have and what the most effective treatment can be.
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