Rare form Crohns disease
Burrill B. Crohn
You or a member of your family has been confronted with the diagnosis “inflammatory bowel disease” or IBD. In most cases, this means either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. At first, these names seem strange and you probably wonder what they can mean. Both refer to chronic inflammation of the mucosal lining of the intestine or bowel, though each has quite specific characteristics.
What do the names mean?
The use of different names is based on the fact that the disease is often named according to the portion of the bowel it affects and which becomes inflamed. The chart shows the digestive tract and gives the names of the various segments. The small bowel is normally 3–5 m (10 - 16 feet) in length, while the large bowel or colon is about 1.5 m (5 feet) long. We distinguish between two main forms of IBD.
The first is ulcerative colitis, an inflammation (“-itis”) affecting only the colon and associated with the formation of ulcers. In some cases, only the rectum is involved, and we speak of ulcerative proctitis (proctos greek = rectum).
The second main type of IBD is Crohn’s disease. Named for its discoverer, the American gastroenterologist Burrill B. Crohn, who described the disease in 1932, it can affect any portion of the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Depending on the exact segments affected, we can speak of Crohn’s ileitis, ileocolitis, colitis or enteritis.
The digestive tract or canal begins in the mouth. Here, the food is chewed and mixed with saliva, lubricating and partially digesting it. Once swallowed, the food passes into the esophagus, a muscular tube, whose walls move in wave-like patterns propelling the food downward into the stomach. In the stomach, the food is mixed with gastric juices, which consist of acid, mucus and various enzymes, which begin the breakdown of proteins. In the duodenum, the food is further mixed with secretions from the pancreas, which contain other digestive enzymes, and with bile. Bile is produced in the liver and contains bile acids, which also help in digestion. These functions are rarely compromised in ulcerative colitis, and, when they are, it is usually due to an associated disorder of the biliary tract. They are sometimes be affected in Crohn’s disease.
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How rare is crohns disease?
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease have no medical cure. They affect approximately 500,000 to two million people in the U.S.