Diagnosis and management of Crohn's disease.
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract at any point from the mouth to the rectum. Patients may experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, abdominal masses, and anemia. Extraintestinal manifestations of Crohn's disease include osteoporosis, inflammatory arthropathies, scleritis, nephrolithiasis, cholelithiasis, and erythema nodosum. Acute phase reactants, such as C-reactive protein level and erythrocyte sedimentation rate, are often increased with inflammation and may correlate with disease activity. Levels of vitamin B12, folate, albumin, prealbumin, and vitamin D can help assess nutritional status. Colonoscopy with ileoscopy, capsule endoscopy, computed tomography enterography, and small bowel follow-through are often used to diagnose Crohn's disease. Ultrasonography, computed axial tomography, scintigraphy, and magnetic resonance imaging can assess for extraintestinal manifestations or complications (e.g., abscess, perforation). Mesalamine products are often used for the medical management of mild to moderate colonic Crohn's disease. Antibiotics (e.g., metronidazole, fluoroquinolones) are often used for treatment. Patients with moderate to severe Crohn's disease are treated with corticosteroids, azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, or anti-tumor necrosis factor agents (e.g., infliximab, adalimumab). Severe disease may require emergent hospitalization and a multidisciplinary approach with a family physician, gastroenterologist, and surgeon.
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