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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The Center for Digestive Health at Beth Israel provides a detailed and focused approach to inflammatory bowel disease. Causes for inflammatory bowel disease are often a combination of a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger (often some change in the bacteria in the intestine). Whatever the cause or manifestation, the Center offers the latest technology to aid in the diagnosis and management of these perplexing and stubborn problems.

The most common types of inflammatory bowel disease are Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.


Ulcerative Colitis
An inflammatory disorder, which involves the innermost layer of the colon and rectum. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include stomach pain or cramps, diarrhea and bleeding from the rectum. People suffering from this disease are at a greater risk for colon cancer.


Crohn’s Disease
A progressive inflammatory disorder, which can involve tissues from the mouth to anus, most commonly the small and large intestine. Abnormal connections between loops of intestine can form as well as narrowing of the digestive tract and complications such as perforation and abscess.

Diagnostic Tools for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Patients suffering from gastrointestinal problems may need to undergo a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a test that allows a physician to examine the large intestine (rectum and colon). During the procedure, a flexible video endoscope is passed through the anus and guided through the rectum and colon to provide a diagnostic view of the lining of the colon and access for treatment. At the time of the procedure, tissue samples can be collected (this is called a biopsy) and abnormal growths (like polyps) can be taken out. Colonoscopy is frequently used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).

An advanced endoscopic technique that uses sprayed dyes during colonoscopy to view tissues in more detail.

Scans such as ultrasound, CT, PET or MRI, including MRI or CT enterography, which is used specifically to view the small bowel.

Blood and Stool Tests
The Center is in the forefront of using certain blood tests to measure antibodies levels and genes to determine who is more likely to get a disease or to have a progressive course.

Digital Rectal Exam
During the examination, the doctor gently puts a lubricated, gloved finger of one hand into the rectum. He or she may use the other hand to press on the lower belly or pelvic area. The exam may be done as part of a regular examination or to check on symptoms, such as rectal bleeding (blood in the stool), belly or pelvic pain, a change in urination, or a change in bowel habits.

Treatment Options
Treatment strategies for inflammatory bowel disease vary depending on the type of condition and its progression.

Lifestyle and Medication

  • Over-the-counter and/or prescription medicines, including anti-inflammatory agents
  • Advanced medical management including new classes of biologics called anti-TNF-alpha drugs that are given intravenously or subcutaneously which can alter the course of the disease
  • Changes in diet and other lifestyle modifications
  • Nutritional guidance and other support


  • Surgery (both minimally invasive and traditional open procedures) to correct structural anomalies, remove all or parts of diseased tissues


  • Psychosocial services, including individual and family support

To learn more about the many services provided by the Center for Digestive Health at Mount Sinai Beth Israel or to make an appointment for a consultation, please call
(212) 604-6822.

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