Diagnostic Tests for Crohn’s Disease

When diagnosing a disease like Crohn’s disease, doctors will need to evaluate all of their patient’s symptoms. This will help them to rule out any other potential digestive diseases and identify any other potential factors that could be complicating their present condition. Nowadays, doctors have access to the more accurate imaging technologies which can pinpoint the exact location and severity of the patient’s inflammation. Obtaining the correct diagnosis is the first step in the proper treatment of Crohn’s disease. If you have Crohn’s disease, then you may be interested in enrolling in one of our Crohn’s disease clinical trials in DeLand, FL.

(For more information on Crohn’s disease, please see: The Signs & Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and Treatments for Crohn’s Disease)

Crohn’s disease has notoriously been difficult to accurately diagnose, mostly because it used to be very difficult to examine the patient’s small intestine. Since then, medical researchers have been able to develop more advanced imaging techniques that allow doctors to perform thorough inspections of the small bowel.

Some of the more advanced tests available for diagnosing Crohn’s Disease include:

MR and CT Enterography

These noninvasive tests were developed to be more sensitive than the more traditional methods of medical imaging for identifying the inflammation present in the intestines. This technology is also capable of diagnosing pockets of bacterial infection (abscesses) and unusual tunnels that can form between the loops of the intestine or amongst the intestine and the other organs (known as fistulas).

Endoscopic Ultrasound

In some cases, doctors will choose to diagnose Crohn’s disease through endoscopic ultrasound. This procedure involves an ultrasound probe that is attached to an endoscope which allows doctors to see deep within the patient’s intestine. This procedure has proven to be extremely useful in identifying fistulas and the sources of unexplained bleeding.

Balloon-Assisted Enteroscopy

Doctors may choose to use this test for sources of bleeding that can’t be found by other diagnostic tests. After the patient has been sedated, a scope which is equipped with two balloons is inserted into the digestive tract via the patient’s mouth. The balloons are then inflated, providing an unobstructed view of the inside folds of digestive tract tissue.

Colonoscopy

This form of diagnostic testing allows doctors to examine the patient’s entire colon with the use of a thin, flexible, lighted tube that has a camera attached to the end. During this procedure, doctors will extract small samples of tissue for laboratory analysis, which could help confirm the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. Some patients may develop clusters of inflammatory cells known as granulomas, which can also help to confirm the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease as these don’t occur with ulcerative colitis.

Small Bowel Imaging

This is a diagnostic test which examines the part of the small bowel that a colonoscopy cannot show. The patient will be given a solution that contains barium, and then MRI, CT, or X-ray images will be taken of their small intestine. More specifically, this test is used to identify areas of inflammation or narrowing in the patient’s small bowel that are characteristic of Crohn’s disease. This type of test is useful in the diagnosis of other inflammatory bowel diseases as well.

In order to accurately diagnose Crohn’s disease, doctors will have to first interpret the intestinal tissue samples that were extracted from the patient. In some cases, pathologists that specialize in inflammatory bowel disorders, like Crohn’s disease, may need to be brought in to accurately interpret these biopsies.

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