Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease. This chronic disorder is characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Crohn's Disease Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary from mild to severe. The most common symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Weight loss

Crohn’s disease can also affect other parts of the body, including the joints, skin, liver and eyes. Approximately one-third of Crohn’s patients will develop symptoms around the anus (perianal), including skin tags, fissures (tears in the anal skin), fistulae (abnormal connection between the intestine and the anus), or abscesses (collections of pus or infected fluid).

There is no single test to diagnose Crohn's disease. A Crohn's disease diagnosis is made using a combination of:

  • Clinical history
  • Physical examination
  • Laboratory tests
  • Endoscopy (gastroscopy/colonoscopy)
  • X-rays, CT scan and/or MRI
  • Tissue biopsy (pathology)

Crohn's Disease Treatment at BIDMC

Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition, meaning there is no cure, but there are treatments available to reduce the inflammation that causes symptoms. Treatments can include:

  • Medications to manage symptoms and complications
    • Anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids
    • Medications called biologics that target the parts of the immune system that are causing inflammation
    • Antibiotics when an abscess or infection is present
    • Medications to manage the symptoms and complications that often accompany Crohn’s disease
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Surgery to remove damaged sections of the intestinal tract

Learn More

The Digestive Disease Center offers multidisciplinary specialty care that includes physicians, surgeons and nurses as well as experts in nutrition. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program