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Inflammatory bowel disease overview

Updated: August 09, 2009

Inflammatory bowel disease actually comprises two different although similar inflammatory diseases, namely: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

  • Crohn's disease: this is a disease that affects any part of the gut and involves all the different layers of the bowel wall.
  • Ulcerative colitis: which is a disease that affects the large bowel (colon) primarily and its lesions involve only the surface of the bowel wall (superficial mucosal inflammation).

Table 1: Summarizing the main differences between these two diseases

Ulcerative "procto" - Colitis

Chron's disease

Ulcerative hence superficial deep (transmural)
Superficial hence crypt abscesses & pseudopolyps Deep with lymphocytic infiltrate
No skip lesions Skip lesions hence cobble stone appearance
Starts at the rectum then involves the colon Most commonly found in the terminal ileum. Can affect any area from mouth to anus.
Rectal involvement hence dysentery is most common presentation
Risk of cancer


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