Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease is a broad term for any condition that causes painful swelling (inflammation) of the intestines. The most common examples are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

IBD is not the same as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which does not cause swelling or damage to the bowels.

If you’re suffering from the symptoms of IBD, you can expect compassionate, comprehensive care from the experts at Baystate Health.


The most common symptom of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, is severe diarrhea, which can cause weight loss. You may also experience cramps, bloody stools, fever, or anemia.

Diagnosing IBD may take time. Your doctor will review your health history and symptoms, and may recommend imaging like MRI or CT scans and endoscopic tests like colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy.


While there currently is no cure for IBD, treatment can reduce inflammation and ease your symptoms. Medication and surgery are the most common treatment options.

If inflammation continues and medication no longer helps, surgery may be an option. Colorectal surgeons at Baystate specialize in the complex surgery required to treat both Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Whenever possible, procedures are done using minimally invasive techniques.

Surgery for ulcerative colitis typically includes removing the colon and rectum. Then, a pouch is made from the small intestine and attached to the anus to create a place for stool to gather before bowel movements. This complex reconstructive surgery is done routinely at Baystate using minimally invasive and robotic techniques.

Because Crohn’s disease can affect the digestive tract anywhere from the mouth to the anus, patients often require more than one surgery. The colorectal surgeons at Baystate have extensive experience with treating Crohn’s disease, and they excel at careful planning to help minimize potential surgeries.

When necessary, your doctor may recommend an ostomy, or stoma, which is a surgically-created opening between the intestines and the wall of the abdomen.

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