Being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease (or any forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease) can understandably be a very overwhelming and unnerving time. You probably will have so many questions and at the same time feel like you are not sure how to process so much information and where to get the answers to your questions. One of your biggest questions before diagnosis may well be "what tests are done for Crohn's Disease?"
It is important to understand, no matter how frustrating it may be, that some questions may take a considerable time to have answers to & some questions may not always have clear answers. At the same time, I understand the feeling of being so ill and just wanting to find a way forward to somehow make every day a little bit easier & more manageable.
Not every test or procedure in this post will happen to every individual awaiting a diagnosis for their bowel issues and there will be tests not covered in this post that may also be carried out. However, I’m going to take you through a handful of those that I’ve experienced.
A rise in platelets or white blood cells in your body can be something that indicates infection or inflammation in the body. This could be caused by IBD or something else. Blood tests cannot be used by themselves to diagnose Crohn’s Disease but they can be a starting point to assess the likelihood of Crohn’s being the reason you’re unwell.
This may be requested by a doctor to see if there is any blood or mucus in your poo. Blood in your poo can be a sign of digestive issues and stool samples also enable the bacteria of the gut to be tested to check for any sign of infection which may be the cause of you feeling unwell.
It is understandable to feel a little uncomfortable about providing a stool sample, but be reassured that this is something doctors commonly deal with and that the process shouldn’t have any side effects.
Certain tests can be performed from outside the body to help doctors assess what is going on inside the digestive tract. It can also help look for any complications. Examples of imaging tests include X-rays, MRI & CT scans. Sometimes, these tests may require you to drink certain liquid or have a solution called contrast injected into a vein to enable parts of the digestive system to be seen more clearly on the images and to stop the bowel from moving around as much as it’s working to minimise imagery being blurred.
Endoscopy & capsule endoscopy
I have had both tests.
An endoscope is a thin tube with a tiny camera on the end that can be inserted into the body to allow doctors to get a better idea of what is going on. When diagnosing problems such as those with the digestive tract, a scope can often be inserted into the mouth (the start of the digestive tract) & eased down the throat to view the top part of the digestive system. Sedation is usually offered through a cannula into the veins and/or via the form of a numbing throat spray. Other “scopes” such as a colonoscopy can help doctors examine the lining of the colon and into the small intestine by inserting the endoscope into the body via the rectum. Again, sedation can be offered for this usually. Scopes are great ways for doctors to be able to take samples of tissue, also known as biopsies, to be tested.
A capsule endoscopy is usually offered if other tests have not been conclusive and is a relatively new test that I was one of the first to try around thirteen years ago. A small capsule includes a tiny camera which is swallowed and then takes photos as it passes through the digestive tract. It then can be passed out the body without discomfort and the images will already have transferred to a little unit which you were around your waist for the day of the capsule. Unlike the scopes explained above, biopsies cannot be taken via this way.
Next time, I will be covering different treatment for Crohn’s Disease.
DISCLAIMER: This is not medical advice. Please consult a medical professional when making decisions to do with your health, whether it is an emergency or otherwise. I used Healthline to help back up my own experience in this blog post.