What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

Updated: Oct 17, 2017
  • Author: William A Rowe, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an idiopathic disease caused by a dysregulated immune response to host intestinal microflora. The 2 major types of IBD are ulcerative colitis (UC), which is limited to the colon, and Crohn disease (CD), which can involve any segment of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the mouth to the anus, involves "skip lesions," and is transmural (see the images below). There is a genetic predisposition for IBD (see Etiology), and patients with this condition are more prone to the development of malignancy (see Prognosis).

Severe colitis noted during colonoscopy in a patie Severe colitis noted during colonoscopy in a patient with inflammatory bowel disease. The mucosa is grossly denuded, with active bleeding noted. The patient had her colon resected very shortly after this view was obtained.
Stricture in the terminal ileum noted during colon Stricture in the terminal ileum noted during colonoscopy in a patient with inflammatory bowel disease. This image depicts a narrowed segment visible upon intubation of the terminal ileum with the colonoscope. Relatively little active inflammation is present, indicating that this is a cicatrix stricture.

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