Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It can cause inflammation along any part of the digestive tract – from the mouth to the anus – but most commonly affects the last part of the small intestine, called the ileum, and the large intestine, including the rectum. It's considered a chronic condition because it may recur throughout a person's lifetime, with periods that are free of symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict when symptoms will return.
Most people with Crohn's disease are diagnosed before the age of 30, although the condition can occur in young children and in adults well past middle age. Men and women are equally affected, and people living in northern climates have a higher incidence. The condition can be inherited and is common in some families. About 12 percent of people with Crohn's disease have a close relative who also has the disease or has the other main type of IBD, ulcerative colitis. The cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. However, the primary trigger of the disease is believed to be the immune system's response to certain viruses and bacteria, leading to intestinal inflammation.
Our Approach to Crohn's Disease
UCSF provides comprehensive evaluations and advanced care for all types of IBD, including Crohn's disease. Our team is made up of many kinds of specialists – such as gastroenterologists, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, immunologists, nutritionists and psychologists – who work collaboratively to devise an individualized treatment plan for each patient. Our overarching goal is to improve our patients' quality of life.
In addition to caring for patients, our doctors are active in research to find new therapies for IBD and, ultimately, a cure. Interested patients may have the option to receive investigational treatments by participating in clinical trials.
Awards & recognition
Among the top hospitals in the nation
One of the nation's best in gastroenterology & GI surgery
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.