Diagnostic Tests & Procedures
Diagnosing IBD can be challenging. Not only do ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease share the same signs and symptoms as many other conditions (e.g. infections), but tests during remission may not show the presence of IBD. The first step to diagnosis is often a blood test revealing inflammation or anemia (from blood loss in feces). These blood test results, combined with other signs of IBD like weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea and fatigue, cue the doctor to investigate further. A stool sample or an x-ray may be taken to get a better idea of what is happening in the digestive system.
To confirm the presence of IBD, a colonoscopy is completed. During a colonoscopy procedure, the doctor inserts a long, thin tube with a camera on the end of it through the anus and into the large intestine. This camera allows the doctor to view the inside of the large intestine and see if there are any ulcers, redness or swelling. During the colonoscopy the doctor usually takes small tissue samples (biopsies) to be sent to the lab and examined under a microscope. If Crohn’s disease is suspected an endoscope might also be inserted through the mouth to look at the throat, stomach and small intestine.
Learn more about how to prepare for a colonoscopy