Crohn's disease diagnosis

Medical professional

Diagnosis of Crohn’s disease will normally be given by a qualified gastroenterologist. Firstly, your GP will listen to your symptoms if they suspect Crohn’s disease, you will most likely be referred to a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specialises in the digestive system and its disorders.

There is no specific test that can determine the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease on its own with certainty. The gastroenterologist will likely recommend a series of tests and to determine the diagnosis, they will evaluate a mixture of information from the patient’s medical history and physical examinations to reach a conclusion.

Learn from others’ experiences of their tests and examinations in the forum.

Testing for Crohn's disease

The tests may include;

  • X-rays of the abdomen to present pictures of the large and small intestine,
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen to present similar pictures,
  • Barium meal. The technician will ask the patient to drink some barium sulfate. This will allow the liquid to show the esophagus, stomach and duodenum very clearly on x-rays,
  • Barium enema, also called a lower gastrointestinal series. X-ray pictures are taken while barium sulfate fills the colon via the rectum,
  • Gastroscopy,  a lighted thin, flexible tube with a camera is inserted into the mouth and down the oesophagus into the stomach to examine the upper digestive tract. It provides a visual image of the area. If any areas look like they may be affected by Crohn’s disease, a small sample or biopsy may be taken for examination in a pathology laboratory
  • Colonoscopy a lighted thin tube with a camera is inserted through the anus, to view the lining of the bowel. It provides a visual image of the area. If any areas look like they may be affected by Crohn’s disease, a small sample of the bowel lining or biopsy may be taken for examination in a pathology laboratory,
  • Blood tests. The blood can be tested for certain proteins present during active Chrohn’s disease
  • Stool tests. It is important to ensure that infection is not causing symptoms, so a stool sample may be tested.

Crohns disease often imitates other conditions and symptoms can widely vary, it may take some time to arrive at the correct diagnosis. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is often incorrectly diagnosed in the early stages of Crohn’s.