A doctor will often order an assortment of tests to help diagnose Crohn’s disease. These tests may include the following:
A stool test can help identify signs of the disease in the stool, such as mucus or blood.
A doctor might order an imaging test, such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan, to get a picture of the person’s internal structures. A CT or MRI scan might require the person to drink a contrast solution or receive contrast intravenously.
Doctors often use a special imaging test called an upper GI series to visualize the upper GI tract more clearly. This test involves the use of X-rays, fluoroscopy, and barium.
A person will drink the barium solution, and the radiologist will then track its movement through the upper GI tract using an X-ray.
Endoscopic procedures can involve endoscopy of the upper GI tract or a colonoscopy to visualize the lower GI tract.
In an upper GI endoscopy, a doctor uses a flexible, lighted tube with a camera on the end. The endoscope passes through the esophagus and into the stomach and small intestine. The doctor is then able to see inside the small intestine and look for any signs of Crohn’s disease.
A person might also need to undergo a capsule endoscopy in which they swallow a capsule that contains a tiny camera. The capsule passes through the GI tract and captures images, which it sends to a receiving device.
The person will easily pass the capsule during a bowel movement. A doctor can then download the images from the camera and review them.
In some cases, a doctor will recommend a colonoscopy. This test also involves a flexible, lighted tube with a camera on the end, which is called a colonoscope. The doctor inserts the colonoscope into the anus and carefully guides it through the rectum and large intestine. The doctor will be able to look for signs of Crohn’s disease or any other concerning issues.
During an endoscopy or colonoscopy, a doctor can take a biopsy of tissue in the GI tract and send it to the pathology laboratory for further testing. Biopsies can help diagnose Crohn’s disease or another condition, such as colon cancer.
Both types of endoscopic procedure will take place under sedation.
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