Lesson 12: Disease of the small and large intestine


Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the rectum and colon. Ulcers form where inflammation has killed the cells that usually line the colon, then bleed and produce pus. Inflammation in the colon also causes the colon to empty frequently, causing diarrhea.

Crohn's disease, also known as regional enteritis, is an inflammatory disease of the intestines that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, causing a wide variety of symptoms. It primarily causes abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is at its worst), vomiting, or weight loss, but may also cause complications outside the gastrointestinal tract such as skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, tiredness, and lack of concentration.

Both ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease have severe and devastating nutritional consequences. They may be distinguished by two differences –

Anatomic distribution – Chron’s disease can occur in any part of the gastro intestinal tract – colon, small intestine, colorectal area.

Ulcerative colitis is confined to the colon and rectum.

Nature of tissue changes – In chron’s disease the inflammation is chronic and can involve any part of the intestinal wall. This often leads to strictures and fistula formation.

In ulcerative colitis, the inflammatory changes are acute and last for brief periods. The changes are also confined to the mucosal and submucosal tissue layers of the intestine.

Last modified: Friday, 4 November 2011, 5:39 AM