Crohn’s disease: A chronic inflammatory disease,
primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can
affect other parts of the digestive system as well. It is named for
Burrill Crohn, the American gastroenterologist who first described
the disease in 1932.
Crohn disease is usually diagnosed in persons in their teens or
twenties, but can come to the fore at any point in life. It can be
a chronic, recurrent condition or can cause minimal symptoms with or
even without medical treatment.
In mild forms, Crohn disease causes small scattered shallow crater-
like areas (erosions) called aphthous ulcers in the inner surface of
the bowel. In more serious cases, deeper and larger ulcers can
develop, causing scarring and stiffness and possibly narrowing of
the bowel, sometimes leading to obstruction. Deep ulcers can puncture
holes in the bowel wall, leading to infection in the abdominal cavity
(peritonitis) and in adjacent organs.
Crohn disease comes in many forms. Involvement of the large
intestine (colon) only is called Crohn colitis or granulomatous
colitis, while involvement of the small intestine alone is called
Crohn enteritis. The most common part of the small intestine to be
affected by Crohn disease is the last portion, called the ileum.
Active disease in this area is termed Crohn ileitis. When both the
small intestine and the large intestine are involved, the condition
is called Crohn enterocolitis (or ileocolitis). Other descriptive
terms may be used as well.
Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are
common symptoms. Crohn disease can be associated with reddish tender
skin nodules, and inflammation of the joints, spine, eyes, and liver.
Diagnosis is commonly made by x-ray or colonoscopy. Treatment
includes medications that are anti-inflammatories, immune
suppressors or antibiotics. Surgery can be necessary in severe
Genetic factors contribute to the causation of Crohn disease. One
of the genes has been shown to be on chromosome 14 in region
Via:: Daily medical word