Ulcerative Colitis Glossary
Understanding ulcerative colitis (UC) and how it affects you is essential to making the most of your treatment. Here are some terms that relate to ulcerative colitis that you may have read or heard your doctor use that will enhance your understanding of your condition and your treatment.
When the abdomen is enlarged or swollen due to internal pressure in the intestines.
Pain in the belly (abdomen). Abdominal pain can come from conditions affecting a variety of organs. In ulcerative colitis, the organ causing pain is usually the large intestine.
Refers to over-the-counter medications like lmodium® and Pepto-Bismol® that help relieve diarrhea.
Drugs used to control inflammation. In ulcerative colitis, these may include sulfasalazine or other medications containing mesalamine (5-ASA agents), and corticosteroids.
Barium enema X-ray
This diagnostic test allows the doctor to evaluate the entire large intestine with an X-ray. Barium, a contrast solution, is placed into the bowel using an enema. Sometimes air is added as well. The barium coats the lining, creating a silhouette of the rectum, colon, and a portion of the small intestine. This test is rarely used anymore, and it can be dangerous because the pressure required to inflate and coat the colon can lead to rupture of the colon. For people with severe symptoms, flexible sigmoidoscopy combined with a CT scan is a better alternative.
Biologics are the most recently developed medications for the treatment of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. Biologic drugs are engineered to target a specific inflammatory protein or enzyme in the body. They can lower your immune system's ability to fight infections.
For people with ulcerative colitis, sometimes blood tests are needed to check for anemia or infection. Tests that look for the presence of certain antibodies can sometimes help diagnose which type of inflammatory bowel disease a patient has, but these tests alone can’t make a definite diagnosis.
Another name for the intestine. The small bowel and the large bowel are the small intestine and large intestine, respectively.
Colectomy (and Proctocolectomy)
Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the entire colon (colectomy). The end of the small intestine (the ileum) is then joined to the rectum. In a proctocolectomy, both the colon and rectum are removed. An ileostomy must then be performed to bring the end of the small intestine (ileum) through a hole (stoma) in the abdominal wall, allowing drainage of intestinal waste out of the body.
The large intestine; serves to remove water from digested food and moves the remaining solid waste (stool) to the rectum.
This procedure enables the doctor to examine the entire colon using a thin, flexible, lighted tube with an attached camera. During the procedure, the doctor can also take small samples of tissue (biopsy) for laboratory analysis. Sometimes a tissue sample can help confirm a diagnosis.
Computerized tomography (CT) scan
A CT scan of the abdomen or pelvis may be performed if the doctor suspects a complication from ulcerative colitis, or inflammation of the small intestine that might suggest Crohn's disease. A CT scan may also reveal how much of the colon is inflamed.
A test in which the doctor passes a flexible instrument into the rectum and lower colon, allowing him or her to see the sigmoid colon and how far inflammation has spread, and how severe it is.
Medications that block the body's immune response, which can cause inflammation. Types of immunosuppressants that may be used to treat ulcerative colitis include azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, and cyclosporine.
A reaction by the body to infection, irritation, or other injury that includes swelling and pain; a type of immune response.
The last 6 to 8 inches of the large intestine. The rectum stores solid waste until it leaves the body through the anus.
If a constricted area of the intestine, or stricture, is long, or there are multiple strictures close to one another, it may be necessary to remove the affected section of the intestine. The 2 ends of healthy intestine are then joined together.
The presence of white blood cells in the stool can be indicative of ulcerative colitis. A stool sample can also help rule out disorders caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. In particular, infection with the bacterium Clostridium difficile can be responsible for diarrhea, but it's also more common among people with ulcerative colitis. The sample can also be used to check for a bowel infection, which is more likely to occur in people with ulcerative colitis.
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a protein in the body. Excess levels of this protein cause inflammation in certain areas of the body. In ulcerative colitis, the affected area is the large intestine.
What is HUMIRA?
HUMIRA is a prescription medicine used in adults to help get moderate to severe ulcerative colitis under control (induce remission) and keep it under control (sustain remission) when certain other medicines have not worked well enough. It is not known if HUMIRA is effective in people who stopped responding to or could not tolerate anti-TNF medicines.