Crohn’s disease is a type of chronic inflammatory condition that usually involves parts of the small and or large bowel. At present the cause is not know, but there are but many theories, and researchers continues to investigate this complex and varied disease.
The inflammation leads to ulceration and can occur anywhere between the mouth and the anus, and it is usually patchy. Sometimes it may involve the anal canal, and may form fistulae and abscesses.
Symptoms may be acute (ie have only been there for a short time), or more chronic. These depend on where the inflammation has occured, and how severe it is. These may include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain and sepsis, anal abscesses and fistulae. Some symptoms are more general or vague, and may be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, or appendicitis.
Treatment is often medical, and a specialist gastroenterologist is involved. Surgery is needed if the disease is more extensive and not responding to medical therapy, or if complications from the inflammation occur. Some examples include perforation of the small bowel, which may present as an intraabdominal collection, or narrowing of the bowel as a result of the inflammation (strictures). Infection around the anal can, with abscesses or fistulae also will require surgery.
Rarely other organs can develop problems such as arthritis, skin conditions and inflammation of the eyes.