Crohn's Versus Colitis

To recap...

Crohn's Disease

  • can involve "gum to bum," and the small bowel is involved in the majority of cases
  • affects full thickness of the bowel wall
  • if the colon is involved, it is usually on the right side and rectal bleeding is common
  • diseased sections of bowel are separated by "skip areas"
  • areas of inflammation and fissures extend through the bowel wall
  • main symptoms: abdominal pain, fever, and malnutrition
  • complications: masses, fistulas, and abscesses are common

Ulcerative Colitis

  • involves only the colon
  • affects only the mucosa, except in severe cases
  • colonic involvement is usually left-sided, and rectal bleeding is nearly always present
  • disease usually starts in the rectum and moves up the colon, with no "skip areas"
  • inflammation involves only the mucosa, except in severe cases
  • main symptoms: bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain
  • complications: bowel obstruction ("toxic megacolon") may occur, but fistulas usually do not