If you have been dealing with a lot of digestive trouble, such as diarrhea and bloody stool, your doctor will probably send you to a gastroenterology specialist for Crohn's disease testing. Crohn's is an autoimmune disease that affects the large and/or small intestine, causing lesions, bleeding, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Here is a look at the tests your gastroenterologist is likely to perform in order to diagnose Crohn's or rule it out.
Blood Test for Anemia
Patients with Crohn's disease often end up anemic, which means they have too few red blood cells. This is because they are dealing with so much intestinal bleeding that their body simply cannot make enough red blood cells to keep up. This test is simple; your doctor will draw some blood and have it sent out to a lab for a red blood cell count. If you are found to be anemic, this does not necessarily mean you have Crohn's — but it does make a Crohn's diagnosis more likely.
This is the primary test used to diagnose Crohn's in many cases. You will need to spend the day before your colonoscopy drinking a laxative solution to make sure your colon is clear. Then, your doctor will give you a sedative or anesthesia before using a special imaging camera, inserted through your anus, to capture footage of the inside of your colon. If they discover clusters of inflamed and bleeding tissue, this can help diagnose Crohn's disease.
An endoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy, except the camera is inserted down your throat and into your small intestine, rather than into your large intestine. This imaging test allows your doctor to look for inflamed and damaged tissues in the small intestine. It's less common for Crohn's patients to have lesions in the small intestine than in the large intestine, but if your colonoscopy failed to allow for a diagnosis, this is a possibility your doctor will want to look into.
Your doctor will likely also request a fecal sample. They will assess this sample for the presence of blood and determine, based on the condition of that blood, where in the intestines it came from. They will also test the stool for the presence of certain cells and inflammatory factors that indicate Crohn's disease.
Crohn's disease is a complex condition, and it is one that your gastroenterologist will have to run a few tests to diagnose. Be patient; you should have an answer within a few weeks.
For more information, contact a gastroenterology clinic in your area today.