IBD Treatment Options
Drexel Gastroenterology uses cutting-edge technology to diagnose and treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). With multiple testing options available, Drexel physicians can help pinpoint the cause of your symptoms and tailor a treatment plan that works for you.
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After reviewing your symptoms, our doctors will determine the best diagnostic test if one is needed. The tests listed below are used to investigate different symptoms and areas of the digestive tract, also known as the gastrointestinal tract (GI). The GI tract extends from the mouth to the rectum and consists of three main segments: upper intestine, middle (small intestine), and lower intestine (colon).
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, or EGD, examines the upper portion of your intestine: your esophagus, stomach and the first portion of the small intestine known as the duodenum.
For this test, you will receive sedation. While asleep, your doctor will place a camera attached to the end of a long, thin, soft, flexible tube through your mouth and advance it through the esophagus into the stomach and duodenum.
Learn more about EGD.
A colonoscopy, also known as a lower endoscopy, examines the lower portion of your intestine: your colon and sometimes the very end of your small intestine.
You will receive sedation for the procedure. While asleep, your doctor will place a camera attached to the end of a long, thin, soft, flexible tube through the rectum and advance it to see your entire colon. Gentle pressure and lubrication are utilized to maximize comfort and ease. Your doctor may take pictures and perform any biopsies that are deemed appropriate.
Learn more about colonoscopy.
When standard endoscopy cannot determine the cause of an unexplained gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, our doctors perform a capsule endoscopy study, using a vitamin-sized capsule that contains a camera to view the small intestine. You simply swallow the capsule like any other pill and it allows our doctors to see areas of the small intestine that could not be viewed during a standard endoscopy.
Learn more about capsule endoscopy.
Chromoendoscopy is a technique used during a colonoscopy that allows your doctor to find abnormal tissue in your intestine. Your doctor will spray water that is colored with a special dye that temporarily stains the intestine, and can help your doctor distinguish normal and abnormal tissue.
Sometimes abnormal tissue can blend in with the rest of your normal intestinal lining. This makes it challenging to find without the dye. Abnormal tissue may be pre-cancerous or cancerous, so it is important that your doctor try to find these in the intestine.
In a breath test, you will drink a liquid that is then metabolized by your digestive system. Later, you blow into a breath analysis machine which allows us to measure molecules that suggest a specific diagnosis.
Breath tests can help support a diagnosis of:
- Lactose intolerance (dairy)
- Fructose malabsorption
- Sucrose malabsorption
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- Helicobacter pylori infection
To make an appointment with an IBD specialist at Drexel Gastroenterology, please call 215.762.6220.
Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT)
Fecal microbiota transplant, or FMT, takes stool from a healthy donor and transplants it into the digestive tract of a patient suffering from recurrent and/or refractory Clostridium difficile infection (RCDI).
The FMT procedure can help patients with RCDI by restoring the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the intestine. FMT may help some patients with IBD, although clinical trials are still underway. Notably, IBD patients have a greater risk of C. difficile infection which can cause Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis flares.
Learn more about Fecal Microbiota Transplant.
Balloon Stricture Dilation
A narrowing in your intestine is known as a stricture which can cause blockage. Your doctor may be able to help you avoid surgery by performing a balloon dilation to open the stricture.
For this procedure, a thin wire is introduced through the narrowing. This wire has a special, medical-grade balloon collapsed around it. When the wire is in place, the balloon is filled with water through a special mechanism. The inflation of the balloon causes the stricture to open up.
Learn more about balloon enteroscopy.
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Historically, antibiotics and steroids have been the mainstay of IBD treatment. Chronic steroid exposure, however, is not only associated with many side effects, but it can also markedly suppress your immune system. Fortunately, modern technology allows us to provide focused, targeted therapies that do not suppress the entire immune system. We now have better means to avoid steroids when possible which is outstanding for patient care.
We believe that an open, collaborative approach to IBD management includes embracing sound alternative and complementary medicine techniques. In addition to medication, quality of sleep, nutrition, and physical therapy all impact one’s overall immune system and well-being.
An example of a comprehensive treatment plan for IBD might include:
- Topical medications (Mesalamines and Budesonide)
Diet and Nutrition
- Pescovegetarian (Mediterranean) diet
- Anti-inflammatory diet
Complementary & Alternative Therapy
- Curcumin (turmeric)
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In addition to medication and alternative therapies, treating IBD often requires surgical procedures. At Drexel Gastroenterology, our gastroenterologist works closely together in the same physical office location as our colorectal surgeon who specialize in IBD. This allows them to communicate directly while the patient is being seen, which can help streamline treatment and eliminate referral time.
In this procedure, a segment of the large or small intestine is removed and the two ends of healthy intestine are joined together (anastomosis). Resection surgery may be used to remove severely diseased portions of the intestine or to remove strictures.
When inflammation is present for a long time, such as in a chronic condition like IBD, it can cause scarring. Scar tissue can build up and potentially block your intestines. Stricutreplasty is a procedure that widens the intestine without removing any portion of it. To do this, the surgeon makes a lengthwise incision along the narrowed area and then sews it up crosswise. This shortens and widens the segment of bowel. Several strictures may be treated in one surgical procedure. Strictureplasty is most effective in the lower sections of the small intestine (ileum and jejunum), and it is less effective in the upper section (duodenum).
A colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the colon. This is done to provide relief from IBD symptoms if medication is not helping you. It may also be an option if precancerous changes are found during a colonoscopy.
A proctocolectomy is the surgical removal of the colon and rectum. This is a standard surgical procedure for patients with IBD when medical therapy has failed or serious life-threatening complications have ensued.
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Managing IBD encompasses more than just medications, scopes and clinic visits. We recognize that and place heavy emphasis on living life. Below are a few things we have chosen to highlight and provide you with helpful resources.
- Physical activity
- Sexuality, intimacy and relationships
Learn more about lifestyle changes and nutritional counseling.
The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.
The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.
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