Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of conditions that cause inflammation (swelling, irritation, stricturing) in the bowel and negatively impact the digestive process. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) are the two main types of IBD. Each condition has distinct characteristics as well as many similarities; up until the 1950s, the two were often incorrectly diagnosed as the same illness. The specialists at the Colorectal Division of North Carolina Surgery at UNC REX are experienced in providing surgical treatment for IBD.
Causes of IBD
The exact cause of IBD is unknown, but the following factors may increase your risk for developing IBD:
- Being a smoker
- Being previously exposed to certain infectious diseases or viruses
- Having a close relative with IBD
- Having compromised immune function
- Regularly taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as Advil, Motrin or Aleve
Treatment for IBD
If you have IBD, you will likely see a gastroenterologist regularly for treatment with medications. You will also need frequent screening colonoscopies, as having IBD increases your risk for developing colorectal cancer. You should establish a relationship with an experienced colorectal surgeon who specializes in IBD management before finding yourself in an emergency. Having this ongoing relationship with a colorectal surgeon may help you better manage your IBD, as well as make you aware of all treatment options, including surgery, when living with IBD.
Surgery for IBD
Many people with IBD need to undergo surgical treatment at some point in their life. You may need to undergo surgery for IBD if:
- Medication management does not work to control your IBD symptoms.
- You want to decrease your colorectal cancer risk.
- You have an emergent, life-threatening complication that requires an operation.