Ulcerative colitis is inflammation limited to the colon and rectum. It usually begins in the rectum and then continuously spreads to other segments of the colon. The inflammation affects the topmost layers of the colorectal lining.
The most common symptom is diarrhea, usually accompanied by mucus discharge. You may feel constant urgency to empty your bowel — even when your bowel is empty. You may also experience abdominal pain, bloody stools, weight loss, fever and fatigue.
Since the inflammation is limited to the superficial layers of digestive tract, we don't see strictures or fistulas like we do with Crohn's disease.
Diagnosing Ulcerative Colitis
Your physician may order a colonoscopy or endoscopy followed by a biopsy to determine whether the inflammation affects the top layers of the intestinal lining or goes deeper, with the latter indicating a Crohn's disease diagnosis. Other diagnostics include MRI, CT scan or capsule endoscopy.
Treating Ulcerative Colitis
We will work with you to establish a personal plan to treat your ulcerative colitis. There are several medications that will reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Surgical removal of the colon and rectum can cure ulcerative colitis, though we reserve this for patients with disabling symptoms or if you do not respond to medical therapy.
Patient's with ulcerative colitis are at an increased risk of colon cancer and therefore require regular surveillance with colonoscopy.