Diagnosing and Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children
Inflammatory bowel disease causes inflammation in the small intestine, colon (large intestine), stomach, and other areas of the digestive tract. Symptoms can vary and may include frequent stomach pain, diarrhea, bloody stool, and weight loss.
Accurate Diagnosis Is Key to Treatment
It is important to get an accurate diagnosis for your child, as treatments can differ for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative/indeterminate colitis. Making a diagnosis is like putting together a puzzle. Different pieces -- symptoms, lab work, imaging tests -- help us build a complete picture of your child’s IBD.
Evaluation and Testing
If inflammatory bowel disease is suspected, your child will be tested for:
- Elevated inflammatory markers
- Low protein levels
- Vitamin/nutrient deficiencies (vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, zinc, iron)
Additional tests and exams include:
- Stool Samples: Tested to rule out other conditions such as gastroenteritis.
- Upper Endoscopy or Colonoscopy: Checks for chronic inflammation in the digestive tract.
- CT Enterography or MR Enterography: Images of the abdomen and pelvis are taken using special methods to increase contrast, allowing us to look for inflammation in the bowel.
Treatment and Ongoing Care
After an initial diagnosis, most children see our pediatric gastroenterologists frequently until their condition is in remission. After your child is in remission, we will see them every two to six months, depending on their condition. Your child’s doctor will perform a physical examination and will assess growth and development. Lab tests ensure the disease is under control and to monitor side effects. Even if your child is feeling well, they should still be seen by their doctor at least once or twice a year.