Condition: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition of the digestive tract and shares similar symptoms to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

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What is IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic (long-term) condition of the digestive tract. The two main forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions can affect various parts of the digestive tract, which is also called the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract).

The digestive tract consists of a long tube of organs that runs from the mouth to the anus, and includes the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine, as well as the liver, gallbladder and pancreas.

IBD occurs in over 300,000 people in the UK, and generally affects men and women equally. These intestinal disorders can start at any age. Ulcerative colitis typically begins in individuals aged 15 to 25,while Crohn's disease is usually diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 40.

What causes IBD?

The exact causes of IBD are not known. They have been linked to genetic and environmental factors, bacterial infections, diet and stress.

Symptoms of IBD

Although Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are not the same condition, they share some common symptoms. However, these symptoms vary in different people. Some people can experience mild symptoms, while others may have severe IBD inflammation and flare-ups, followed by long periods without symptoms (remission).

Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Chronic (long-term) diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • An urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Rectal bleeding (bleeding from the anus or bottom)
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Fever
  • Smaller appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

Tests for IBD

Currently, IBD cannot be cured. However, there are several ways to diagnose IBD to determine the most appropriate treatment for each person. Accurate diagnosis is essential to identify and monitor IBD treatment and manage ongoing care.

OneWelbeck Digestive Health in London can provide you with fast, high-quality-services. OneWelbeck provides private gastroscopy procedures, which are day-case procedures, without the need for overnight stay.

If your digestive health specialist at OneWelbeck thinks you may have IBD, they will start by taking a detailed medical history of your past and current health. They may also carry out some of the following tests to confirm your gastroenterology disease:

  • Stool samples
  • Blood tests
  • MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) scans
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • CT-(Computerised tomography) scans
  • Examination of the rectum and colon

Diagnostic Procedures

An endoscopy is a procedure that your GI specialist can use to view and operate on the internal organs of your body, without making large incisions. Endoscopies can also be used to take a sample of tissue for a biopsy.

There are various types of gastrointestinal endoscopies that can help to determine if you have Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or any other IBD complications. These diagnostic procedures can also reveal the extent and severity of IBD inflammation.

The Digestive Health Centre at OneWelbeck in London offers the following endoscopic day case procedures:

In most cases, you will receive your IBD diagnosis results and return home the same day, without admission into hospital.

Treatment for IBD

IBD treatment may involve a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, monitoring and surgery. Our multidisciplinary team at OneWelbeck will help you to understand all your IBD treatment options so you can manage your condition after your diagnosis.

The first treatment for IBD will usually involve medications. These will depend on the type and severity of the disease, and any other treatments or conditions you may have. Your GI specialist  can recommend the most appropriate medications for your individual IBD condition.

The aim of these first medications is to relieve you of your IBD symptoms and bring about remission. After your symptoms are under control, you will usually continue to take medications to maintain this remission.


Since IBD is a chronic (long-term) illness, it also requires monitoring, which is a critical part of ongoing care at OneWelbeck. The endoscopy procedures that were used to diagnose your IBD can also be used to monitor your IBD disease. These results can show how well you are responding to therapy and confirm whether your IBD is in remission.

IBD monitoring procedures available at OneWelbeck include a Colonoscopy, Sigmoidoscopy and Upper Endoscopy.


IBD surgery may be needed if your medications do not work or if IBD complications occur. Around 23% to 45% of people with ulcerative colitis will need surgery. Up to 75 percent of Crohn’s patients will eventually require surgery to treat their disease.

Surgery, like IBD medications, does not cure Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Surgery is not recommended for all IBD patients. At OneWelbeck in London, you can speak with your gastrointestinal consultant to decide upon the best possible IBD treatment for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What medications are used for IBD?

Anti-inflammatory medications are often the first step in the treatment of IBD. These medications include corticosteroids, such as prednisone and budesonide. They can help to reduce inflammation in the body but they don’t work for everyone with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

What are the differences in Crohn’s disease vs. Ulcerative Colitis?

One of the main differences between these two gastrointestinal conditions is the part of the digestive tract that they affect. Ulcerative colitis occurs in the colon and rectum (large bowel), while Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere in the digestive tract.

So, for people with ulcerative colitis, abdominal pain is often limited to the left side of the abdomen, while people with Crohn’s disease may have abdominal pain anywhere in the abdomen.

Since Crohn’s disease affects more of the GI tract, it can cause different symptoms that are not seen with ulcerative colitis. These may include:

  • Mouth ulcers (canker sores) that develop around the base of the gums
  • Anal fistulas (anal fissures) which are splits or tears at the end of the anal canal

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Specialists

We have brought together a group of leading colorectal and general surgeons and gastroenterologists to create our Digestive Health team. With over 300 years of combined experience, these expert clinicians are the best in their field and are all focused on delivering the very best patient care.