Crohn’s disease is inflammation of the digestive tract which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, and even malnutrition.
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Care at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Penn State Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center doctors and surgeons are leaders in the field of inflammatory bowel disease, having been awarded top honors including Castle Connolly's list of America's Top Doctors.
Our dedicated IBD nurse navigator helps navigate our patients through our health system. The navigator is available by phone to answer questions, direct patients to services, and assist with scheduling by calling 717-531-3998.
Unlike some other health care systems, we offer all of our IBD services at one site. Gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons share the same clinic, providing a single location for our patients who require multiple services during a single visit.
Additionally, if x-rays, blood work, enterstomal therapy, dermatology, psychiatry or other ancillary services are required during a patient visit, these services and medical professionals are all located within our IBD clinic site.
We routinely provide advanced diagnostic and treatment techniques that are not widely available elsewhere. These include MR enterography, chromoendoscopy, pill cam and robotic surgery.
Crohn's disease has many possible symptoms that can be mistaken for other health problems. That’s why our doctors gather information from multiple sources before making a diagnosis. We will usually order a combination of exams, lab tests, and imaging studies to:
- Rule out other health problems that have similar symptoms, like ulcerative colitis, microscopic colitis, or celiac disease
- Make a clear diagnosis of Crohn's disease
- Determine exactly which part of your digestive tract is affected
These exams and imaging tests may include:
- Special blood and stool tests
- Upper endoscopy
- Small bowel endoscopy (single and double balloon enteroscopy)
- CT and MR enterography
There is no known cure for Crohn's disease, but therapies are available that can dramatically reduce the discomfort of the disease and even lead to long-term remission (a decrease in or disappearance of symptoms) and tissue healing. These include:
- Advanced drug therapies: Our doctors may suggest several medications to reduce inflammation of the bowel tissue, allowing it to heal and relieving symptoms. The most common medications include 5-aminosalicylate agents, steroids, immunomodulators, and biologic agents.
Our IBD colorectal surgeons specialize in laparoscopy, including robotic laparoscopy - a minimally invasive surgery that requires one or more small cuts in your abdomen, instead of one large one, resulting in less pain, faster recovery, and minimal scarring.
Basic surgeries for Crohn's disease include:
- Opening up narrowed areas of the intestine (strictureplasty)
- Removing damaged sections of the small or large bowel (resection)
- Complete removal of the colon or the colon and rectum (colectomy or proctocolectomy)
If we recommend surgery, you may require a temporary or permanent colostomy or ileostomy to manage waste, depending on the type and severity of your IBD. Frequently such stomas are temporary. Our surgeons specialize in these procedures and perform hundreds of them each year.
If you have a colostomy or ileostomy, our center has a team of stomal therapists that can educate and help with customizing your appliance needs. They’re available by phone or can see you in the clinic. Many problems can be managed with newer supplies and appliances, but if revisional surgery (a surgery performed to improve the function of the stoma) is needed, they will arrange for a surgeon to see you.
Penn State Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center provides treatment for Crohn’s disease. In situations requiring surgery, our colorectal surgery team also provides patient care.
Penn State Health IBD Center for Crohn's and Colitis
University Physicians Center, Suite 3200
500 University Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
Hours: Monday–Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Penn State Health Colonnade and Endoscopy Center
32 Colonnade Way
State College, PA 16803
Hours: Monday–Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Groups, Classes & Support
Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other parents and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.