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What is Crohn’s (granulomatous) colitis?

What is Crohn's colitis?

Granulomatous colitis, also known as Crohn's colitis, occurs only in the colon (also known as the large intestine or large bowel). It is often just known as Crohn’s colitis and is a form of Crohn’s disease. It accounts for around 20% of Crohn’s disease cases.

Crohn’s colitis is a lifelong chronic condition which cannot currently be cured and is part of a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

When given a diagnosis of Crohn’s colitis some people believe they have both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. However, this isn’t the case. Crohn’s colitis is a form of Crohn’s disease. The word 'colitis' simply means inflammation of the colon lining.

Due to inflammation in the colon in Crohn’s colitis bloody diarrhoea is a common symptom.

What is Crohn's disease?

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It most commonly affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine, however it can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus.

Crohn’s disease can affect the entire thickness of the digestive tract wall and may also skip areas - meaning you could have inflammation near you mouth and also in your small bowel but no where in between.

It is common for people with Crohn’s disease to be diagnosed with more than one type of the condition if inflammation is present in several places in the GI tract.


What are the symptoms of Crohn’s colitis?

Typical symptoms include:

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What are the treatments for Crohn's colitis?

Treatments currently include medication and surgery. Some people have severely inflamed or damaged parts of their bowels surgically removed. This can reduce or eliminate the symptoms, however it does not get rid of the disease and there is a risk that it will return to another area of the GI tract in the future.

Some people also make adjustments to their diet and lifestyle to support their medical treatment - such as exercise, improving quality of sleep, reducing stress.

  • What complications can occur with Crohn’s colitis?
  • Colon cancer: There may be an increased risk of developing cancer if you have Crohn’s colitis. The risk in the first 8 years of the disease is not considered any higher, however after this time most experts believe the risk increases with the length of time there is inflammation present
  • Strictures: Over time the wall of the colon can become thickened due to scar tissue caused by chronic inflammation. This can cause the colon to become blocked, either partially or fully, slowing or stopping movement of food or stool through the intestines. A complete bowel obstruction is life-threatening and often requires surgery
  • Fistulas: A fistula is a channel that develops between one organ and another so that they are connected. There are many different types of fistulas (depending on where the fistula links between). Around 1 in 3 people with Crohn’s disease develop a fistula at some point
  • Abscess: This is where a pocket of pus caused by infection from bacteria can form in the intestinal wall, sometimes causing it to bulge out

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