Scans and X-rays for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

There are various types of scans and X-rays which are used to both help diagnose inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and also to monitor it. The results of the scans will be used alongside other tests to build a picture of your IBD.

The most common types used are:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is used to view the small intestine and look for abscesses or infection in patients with perianal Crohn’s disease
  • Computerised tomography (CT) (also known as CAT scan) or computerised tomography enterography/enteroclysis (CTE) scans. Several X-rays of your small intestines are taken and assembled by computer to create a detailed image
  • Ultrasound is used to help diagnose perianal Crohn’s disease as well as examine organs in the abdomen (such as liver and gallbladder). It may also be used to examine the small bowel for blockages
  • Leukocyte scintigraphy (white blood cell scans)
  • Magnetic resonance enterography/enteroclysis (MRE) - magnetic fields and radio waves are used to produce detailed images of your small intestines
  • Abdominal X-rays are often used to detect blockages in the large and small intestine or to look for toxic megacolon in people with ulcerative colitis
  • Barium enema tests. A thick, chalky liquid called barium will be tracked by X-ray as it passes through your body
  • Duel-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) scans - bone density scan

The type of scans and/or you might have will vary depending on your symptoms and whether you have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

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