Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are chronic conditions including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease that affect about 3 million U.S. adults. IBD is a complex disease that requires the expertise of a team of specialists. The UC Davis Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center provides comprehensive and personalized care with the goal of improving quality of life. Our center is committed to patient care, education of patients and doctors, and research. Our specialists lead innovative research to better understand IBD and study new medications to provide you with leading-edge therapy.

Our IBD team of experts include gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, dieticians, mental health providers, and ostomy nurses. Our team meets regularly to develop comprehensive and individualized treatment plans. We strive to maximize the quality of life of our patients. Patient participation in the decision-making process is crucial in the development of a therapy plan that addresses the unique needs of each of our patients.

Meet Our Team

The UC Davis Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center’s team includes gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, dieticians, mental health providers, and ostomy nurses. Together we provide comprehensive, individualized, and advanced care.


Our Specialists

Our Surgeons & Dietitian

Areas of Expertise

Our team of specialists strive to maximize the quality of life of our patients. Below you'll find an overview of both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, including a brief description of the disease and our approach to treating it. Then, you'll find signs and symptoms to both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, as well as how we work to diagnose and determine treatment.

What is Crohn's Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the small intestines. Although it can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the end of the small intestines (terminal ileum) and the large intestines (colon and rectum). Unlike ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease can cause patchy inflammation meaning that certain parts of the intestines are normal and other parts are inflamed. Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that typically consists of periods when disease is uncontrolled (flare) and periods of when disease is under control (remission). Uncontrolled inflammation can lead to scar tissue and intestinal narrowing called strictures. Inflammation can also extend into nearby organs leading to abnormal connections in the body called fistulas.

Our Approach

At UC Davis, we perform comprehensive evaluation and implement cutting-edge care for all types of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease. Our team consists of multiple medical experts including gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, pharmacists, mental health providers, and dieticians. Through this collaboration, we are able to fully treat the disease and improve patients’ quality of life. In addition to patient care, our providers conduct research into new therapies for inflammatory bowel disease. We provide opportunities to participate in clinical trials to receive cutting-edge, investigational therapies.

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease yet. The decision to start treatment depends on symptoms as well as the severity of disease. We commonly use medications and sometimes surgery to control disease. Ultimately, our goal is to heal the intestines and prevent inflammation from returning.

  • Medications: Medications are used to relieve symptoms by reducing inflammation in the intestines. Milder disease can sometimes be watched closely if there are minimal symptoms. Most patients with Crohn’s disease tend to experience worsening of their disease if not treated. These patients require medication that targets the overactive immune system response of Crohn’s disease. These medications include pills, injections (self-administered), infusions (given by intravenous route at an infusion center), or a combination of both. It is crucial to have a discussion with your physician to decide on the medication that best suits you. It is also important to avoid missing doses or stopping medication without alerting your provider because this may affect the ability of the medication to help you again in the future. 
  • Surgery: When Crohn’s disease becomes too severe for medications or develops complications such as stricture (narrowing) or fistula (abnormal inflammatory connection), surgery is necessary. Typically, surgery will remove the diseased or inflamed intestines and reconnect the healthy intestines. Although the inflamed or diseased portions of intestines are removed, the inflammation tends to return at the site of surgical re-connection. Medication is typically recommended after surgery to prevent inflammation from returning. In Crohn’s patients with perianal disease where inflammation in the rectum leads to abscesses (collections of fluid which may be infected) and fistulas (inflammatory connections between intestine and the skin or other adjacent organ), surgical procedures may be required to drain abscesses or treat fistulas.

What is Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the large intestines, sometimes also referred to as colitis or proctitis. It typically affects the rectum or the lower part of the colon but sometimes it affects the entire colon. Unlike Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis only affects the colon. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that can be described as periods when disease is uncontrolled (flare) and periods when disease is under control (remission). 

Our Approach

At UC Davis, we perform comprehensive evaluation and implement cutting-edge care for all types of inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis. Our team consists of multiple medical experts including gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, pharmacists, mental health providers, and dieticians. Through this collaboration, we are able to fully treat the disease and improve patients’ quality of life. In addition to patient care, our providers conduct research into new therapies for inflammatory bowel disease. We provide opportunities to participate in clinical trials to receive cutting-edge, investigational therapies.

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for ulcerative colitis yet. We commonly use medications to relieve symptoms in the short term and prevent symptoms from coming back over the long term. Ultimately, our goal is to heal the intestines.

  • Medications: Medications are used to relieve symptoms by reducing inflammation in the colon. Milder disease can be treated successfully with pills called aminosalicylates. More severe disease requires medication that targets the overactive immune system response of ulcerative colitis. These medications include pills, injections (self-administered), infusions (given by intravenous route at an infusion center), or a combination of both. It is crucial to have a discussion with your physician to decide on the medication that best suits you. It is also important to avoid missing doses or stopping medication without alerting your provider because this may affect the ability of the medication to help you again in the future.
  • Surgery: About 20 percent of patients with ulcerative colitis will require surgery. The reasons may be ineffective medications, inability to wean off of steroids, cancer or dysplasia which are changes that eventually may grow into cancer, or acute complications of colitis such as bleeding, rupture of the colon, or dilation of the colon. The surgery typically consists of removing the entire colon and rectum. Unlike Crohn’s disease, colitis is typically cured after surgery. There are two types of surgeries associated with ulcerative colitis. Colectomy with an ileal pouch anal anastomosis involves the creation of a pouch that allows the patient to have control over their bowel movements through preservation of anus although bowel movements may be watery and more frequent. Furthermore, these patients are at risk of developing inflammation in the pouch called pouchitis. Colectomy with end ileostomy involves the creation of a small opening in the abdomen called a stoma that connects to the end of the small intestine, allowing waste to exit the body from the stoma into a bag/pouch. These patients are not at risk of developing inflammation after surgery.

Signs and Symptoms

Common:

  • Abdominal (belly) cramping or pain
  • Loose, watery, or frequent bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Anemia

Less common:

  • Constipation or inability to move bowels
  • Joint or back pains
  • Skin problems or rash
  • Painful, red eye (inflammation of the eye)
  • Mouth sores or ulcers
  • Liver disease

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis is based on a combination of medical history, physical exam, laboratory tests, imaging studies, and endoscopy. At UC Davis, we offer a comprehensive evaluation utilizing the latest advanced diagnostic techniques such as:

  • Blood tests, to predict how the body will metabolize medication for a personalized approach
  • CT enterography, a type of advanced CT scan which visualizes the intestines with high resolution
  • MRI enterography, a novel imaging test that visualizes the small intestines without radiation
  • MRI pelvis, an advanced MRI imaging test used to visualize fistulas and abscesses near the anus related to Crohn’s disease
  • Chromoendoscopy, an advanced colonoscopy that utilizes techniques for better detection of pre-cancerous changes (dysplasia)
  • Capsule endoscopy, a non-invasive test where a pill camera is swallowed and takes pictures of the small intestines which are evaluated by experts; the capsule is passed naturally

Treatment

We strive to develop a partnership with each patient to create a treatment plan that incorporates patient input and physician expertise with a goal to improve quality of life. We manage inflammatory bowel disease with multiple expert providers including gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons, dieticians, mental health providers, and pharmacists.

Contact Us

Refer A Patient:

For urgent referrals, call 800-482-3284, option #3

For non-urgent referrals, submit online or by fax (Electronic Referral)

Clinic Location:

Midtown Ambulatory Care Center
3160 Folsom Blvd, Suite 3500
Sacramento, CA 95816

New patient referrals: 1-800-482-3284
Existing patient appointments: 916-734-8616
Existing patient medication refill fax: 916-734-0804