Question: How can a diagnosis change from ulcerative colitis to Crohn's disease?




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It is sometimes very challenging to determine whether a patient has ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis only affects the colon; and while Crohn’s can ultimately affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, there are certain times when it also only affects the colon. Upon initial diagnosis, it’s possible to diagnose inflammation that’s only located in the colon as either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s colitis. (For a better understanding of how one makes these diagnoses and how one can distinguish between the two diseases, please refer to our articles on these topics.)

Sometimes inflammation that goes beyond the colon can occur later in life. As well, sometimes inflammation in the colon is found to be different than what was initially seen upon first assessment. These are two examples of scenarios when the diagnosis would change from ulcerative colitis to Crohn’s disease. Knowing your disease and knowing the location of your disease are two important pieces of information you should confidently understand. If that’s not the case, you should speak to your doctor in further detail about the nature of your condition.


Dr. Brian Bressler


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