Irritable Bowel Disease, KTTU-18 "In Focus," Sunday, 1/17/10, 10:30 AM

Posted: Updated:
By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Dr. Vassiliki Liana Tsikitis, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology at the U of A College of Medicine,  Inflammatory bowel disease is the name of a group of disorders that cause the intestines to become red and swollen. The inflammation lasts a long time and usually comes back over and over again.  More than 600,000 Americans have some kind of inflammatory bowel disease every year.

Dr. Tsikitis says the two major types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.  She says ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon (large intestine).  She says Crohn's disease can involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, but it most commonly affects the small intestine and/or the colon.  She says most people with IBD begin to have symptoms between the ages of 15 and 30. Smoking, she says, seems to affect a person's risk of getting IBD.

Tsikitis says it is not yet known know what causes inflammatory bowel disease. She says something unknown triggers the body's immune system to produce an inflammatory reaction in the intestinal tract that continues without control. As a result of the inflammatory reaction, she says the intestinal wall is damaged leading to bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Tsikitis says IBD is most often treated with medicines and/or surgery.  She says surgery that removes the entire large intestine can completely cure ulcerative colitis. She says in the majority of surgeries, a “pouch” is attached  to the inside of the anus where the rectum was, creating an internal pouch. Waste is stored in the pouch and passes out of the anus in the usual manner.  She says About 65 to 75 percent of people with Crohn's disease need surgery at some point in their lives.  She also says IBD can increase the chances of getting cancer of the colon, or large intestine. She says people who have had IBD for 8 to 10 years should have a colonoscopy with biopsies every 1 to 2 years.