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Crohn's Disease Specialist

Colon and Rectal Clinic of Tampa Bay

Lourdes T Santiago , MD

Colorectal Surgery & General Surgery located in Clearwater, FL

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that most often affects the small intestine. About half a million people in the United States have Crohn’s disease, and rates of diagnosis are increasing. Though treatment varies, some people with Crohn’s disease need abdominal or colorectal surgery. Lourdes Santiago, MD, is a board-certified general surgeon at the Colon and Rectal Clinic of Tampa Bay, in Clearwater, Florida, who specializes in the surgical treatment of Crohn’s disease. To schedule a consultation with this surgical expert, call the office or book an appointment online today.

Crohn's Disease Q&A

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation that affects the deep layers of the gastrointestinal tract — unlike ulcerative colitis, another type of IBD, that only affects the innermost layer of the large intestine.

The inflammation may affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. However, Crohn’s disease most often affects the small intestine and a portion of the large intestine — a condition known as ileocolitis.  

What are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease symptoms vary in type and severity and may depend on the affected area of the GI tract. Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Bloody stools
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Poor appetite

Anal fissures are also a symptom of Crohn’s disease. Anal fissures are tiny tears in the anal tissue that cause severe pain during and after a bowel movement.

You may also develop other complications, such as fistulas (tunneling through the GI tract into the abdominal cavity), bowel blockage, or colon cancer. 

Crohn’s disease symptoms tend to go through cycles where you have a flare-up of symptoms, known as an IBD flare, followed by periods of remission. 

How is Crohn’s disease diagnosed?

Doctors perform comprehensive exams to diagnose Crohn’s disease. These exams may include a physical exam, blood work, and stool test. 

Dr. Santiago may also recommend a colonoscopy or an upper GI endoscopy to evaluate the lining of your lower and upper digestive tract to look for signs of inflammation. 

How is Crohn’s disease treated?

Treatment for Crohn’s disease depends on the severity of your symptoms and the degree of damage you have in your GI tract. Your doctor may recommend medical interventions such as medications to ease symptoms and inflammation.

If you have a Crohn’s disease complication, such as intestinal perforation, blockage, or bleeding, Dr. Santiago at the Colon and Rectal Clinic of Tampa Bay may perform surgery to correct the problem. She also performs surgery to treat anal fissures.

When performing surgery for Crohn’s disease, Dr. Santiago uses minimally invasive laparoscopic or robotic colorectal surgical tools and techniques to reduce scarring, post-procedure pain, and recovery time. 

Crohn’s disease is a chronic IBD that requires ongoing medical care and monitoring. To discuss surgery for Crohn’s disease, call the Colon and Rectal Clinic of Tampa Bay or schedule an appointment online today.