Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease causes inflammation of the small intestine. Although it may involve any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus, it most commonly affects the last part of the small intestine, called the ileum, and the large intestine, including the colon and rectum. This is considered a chronic condition because it may recur at various times throughout your lifetime, with periods of remission in which you are free of symptoms. There is no consistently accurate way to predict when a remission may occur or when symptoms will return.

The disease may occur in people of all ages, although most are diagnosed before the age of 30. However, it also can affect young children and older people in their seventies or beyond. Crohn's disease occurs most commonly in people living in northern climates and affects men and women equally. The condition can be inherited and is common in some families. About 20 percent to 25 percent of those with Crohn's disease have a close relative who also has the disease or the related condition, ulcerative colitis. The cause of Crohn's disease has not been proven definitely. However, the immune system's response to certain viruses and bacteria that cause inflammation of the intestines is believed to be the primary cause of the disease.

Our Approach to Crohn's Disease

UCSF provides comprehensive evaluations and advanced care for all types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn's disease. Our team is made up of many kinds of specialists – such as gastroenterologists, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, immunologists, nutritionists and psychologists – who work together to devise treatment plans for each patient. Our goal is to improve patients' quality of life, and we encourage their input on treatment decisions.

In addition to caring for patients, our providers are conducting research to find new therapies for IBD and, ultimately, a cure. Interested patients may have the option to receive investigational treatments by participating in clinical trials.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Best hospital in Northern California

  • Best in Northern California in gastroenterology & GI surgery

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.