Regional enteritis: Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestine primarily in the small and large intestines but which can occur anywhere in the digestive system between the mouth and the anus.
Named after Burrill Crohn who described the disease in 1932. The disease usually affects persons in their teens or early twenties. It tends to be chronic, recurrent with periods of remission and exacerbation. In the early stages, it causes small scattered shallow crater-like areas (erosions) called aphthous ulcers in the inner surface of the bowel. With time, deeper and larger ulcers develop, causing scarring and stiffness of the bowel and the bowel becomes increasingly narrowed, leading to obstruction. Deep ulcers can puncture holes in the bowel wall, leading to infection in the abdominal cavity (peritonitis) and in adjacent organs. When only the large intestine (colon) is involved, the condition is called Crohn's colitis. When only the small intestine is involved, the condition is called Crohn's enteritis. When only the end of the small intestine (the terminal ileum) is involved, it is termed terminal ileitis. When both the small intestine and the large intestine are involved, the condition is called Crohn's enterocolitis (or ileocolitis). Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss can be symptoms. Crohn's disease can be associated with reddish tender skin nodules, and inflammation of the joints, spine, eyes, and liver. Diagnosis is by barium enema, barium x-ray of the small bowel, and colonoscopy. Treatment includes medications for inflammation, immune suppression, antibiotics, or surgery. (The disease is also called granulomatous enteritis).