Crohn's Colitis in the Large Intestine

large intestine
Image © ericsphotography / E+ / Getty Images

Crohn's colitis is a form of Crohn's disease. While the names can lead to confusion, Crohn's colitis is not the same as ulcerative colitis—they are different types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

A condition primarily affecting the colon (large intestine) is often termed "colitis." Crohn's colitis is diagnosed when Crohn's disease primarily or only affects the colon. This type of Crohn's disease is diagnosed in about 20% of all patients with Crohn's disease and is also sometimes called granulomatous colitis.

Symptoms and Presentation

The most common symptoms of this form of Crohn's disease include diarrhea (with 40% to 50% of patients seeing blood in the stool), weight loss, and abdominal pain.

Interventional diagnostic examinations like colonoscopy can differentiate between Crohn's colitis and ulcerative colitis.

  • Crohn's disease is characterized by pockets of inflammation in the large intestine, separated by areas of healthy tissue. In ulcerative colitis, the inflammation is continuous and is not separated by healthy tissue.
  • Crohn's disease also may make the inside of the intestines look like cobblestones, which does not happen with ulcerative colitis.
  • In Crohn's disease, the inflammation is often deep in the colon. With ulcerative colitis, inflammation is typically limited to the superficial layers of the inner lining of the colon.

Breaking Down the Components of "Crohn's Colitis"

Having Chrohn's colitis means that you have Crohn's disease, and that you can expect to experience the symptoms of Crohn's disease that specifically affect the colon.

Crohn's

The "Crohn's" in Crohn's colitis refers to Crohn's disease, which is an incurable form of IBD that can affect any part of the digestive tract. Crohn's disease is often subclassified based on the location of involvement. However, if it affects many regions throughout the digestive tract, it might not fall into one of the classifications.

The five types of Crohn's disease are:

  • Ileocolitis involves the ileum (small intestine) and colon
  • Ileitis involves only the small intestine
  • Gastroduodenal Crohn's disease involves the esophagus, stomach and/or upper part of the small intestine
  • Jejunoileitis involves approximately half of the upper portion of the small intestine
  • Crohn's (granulomatous) colitis

Crohn's colitis is one of the more common forms of Crohn's disease.

Crohn's colitis is a form of Crohn's disease, and it does not mean that a patient also has ulcerative colitis.

Colitis

Colitis is a very general term, and it means inflammation in the large intestine. Colitis has a variety of causes that have nothing to do with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, or even IBD. Colitis can also be caused by infection with a parasite, virus, or bacteria. Colitis can also result from ischemia (a lack of blood flow) or occur as a side effect of radiation therapy.

Some of these forms of colitis are acute, coming on suddenly. Infectious colitis often improves with treatment. Colitis that is caused by IBD is considered chronic, and while the disease might go into remission or improve with treatment, it is never cured.

Disease Course and Treatment

Identifying Crohn's colitis helps guide medical and surgical management. If you have Crohn's disease affecting your large intestine, you will treatment and follow-up tests will be tailored to your disease.

Having been classified as having Crohn's colitis does not mean that the Crohn's disease will never affect the small intestine or other areas of your digestive tract. It just means that the Crohn's disease is not present in the small intestine at the current time. If the disease goes on to affect other parts of the digestive tract, your diagnosis will change.

A Word From Verywell

Some important points to remember about Crohn's colitis:

  • It is one form of Crohn's disease
  • It is not ulcerative colitis
  • Patients with Crohn's colitis have inflammation in their large intestine
  • About 20% of people with Crohn's disease have the Crohn's colitis form
  • "Colitis" means inflammation of the colon, and it should not be mistaken to mean to refer to ulcerative colitis

Also Known As: Granulomatous colitis, Crohn colitis, Crohn's-colitis

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Freeman HJ. Granuloma-positive Crohn's diseaseCan J Gastroenterol. 2007;21(9):583–587. doi:10.1155/2007/917649

  2. Di Palma JA, Farraye FA. Crohn's disease: the first visitGastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011;7(3):163–169.

  3. Xia B, Crusius J, Meuwissen S, Pena A. Inflammatory bowel disease: definition, epidemiology, etiologic aspects, and immunogenetic studiesWorld J Gastroenterol. 1998;4(5):446–458. doi:10.3748/wjg.v4.i5.446

  4. Cheifetz AS. Management of active Crohn diseaseJAMA. 2013;309(20):2150–2158. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.4466

  5. Cummings JR, Keshav S, Travis SP. Medical management of Crohn's diseaseBMJ. 2008;336(7652):1062–1066. doi:10.1136/bmj.39547.603218.AE

Additional Reading