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Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory disorders of the intestine affecting a wide spectrum of the ages. There are currently an estimated 1.4 million Americans with these diseases.
Patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis face unique challenges. The Crohn’s and Colitis Center brings together a personal care team of digestive health specialists to provide expert diagnosis, leading-edge medical and surgical interventions and personalized, ongoing care to help patients manage their condition. Our gastroenterologists with a focused expertise in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis form the core of the treatment team.
Other key members of the team include colorectal surgeons specializing in the treatment of these diseases, gastrointestinal radiologists with expertise in advanced imaging techniques, GI pathologists, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, nutritionists and enterostomal specialists.
Team members conduct a weekly interdisciplinary conference to discuss patients’ needs, treatment and progress. They also work closely with both the patient and the referring physician to coordinate a care plan designed to offer the best outcomes.
A diagnosis of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis is typically based on medical history, physical exam, laboratory evaluation, radiologic studies, and endoscopic evaluation. We offer outpatients and inpatients ease of scheduling consultations and expert analysis of their test findings, 24 hours a day, for a range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. All of our physicians offer routine endoscopy and colonoscopy and are available around the clock to confer with referring physicians.
We also offer a full range of advanced diagnostic techniques, including:
Our diagnostic radiology team is composed of dedicated imaging specialists whose practice focuses specifically on GI scans. They are nationally recognized for expertise in all forms of sophisticated imaging, including CT scans, PET scans, MRI scans, and interventional GI radiology procedures.
The Crohn's and Colitis Center also offers the latest innovations in diagnosis, including novel endoscopic imaging such as chromoendoscopy. We are also active in the development of non-invasive diagnostic tools including blood and stool biomarkers that can allow for easier monitoring of disease activity and assess response to therapies.
The Crohn’s and Colitis Center offers the full range of conventional and innovative medical therapies. Our physicians are experienced in fine-tuning medical therapies and helping patients obtain relief from persistent, difficult-to-manage symptoms. They are also known around the world for their experience treating inflammatory bowel disease.
We were one of the first centers in the world to offer Remicade, a medicine that is now a standard of care, to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. We continue to be pioneers in the field and are actively involved in many clinical trials and research of promising new investigational medications, biological agents, and interventions to treat inflammatory bowel diseases. An average of 8-10 clinical trials are ongoing for Crohn's and colitis at any given time. All of our treating gastroenterologists are members of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and American Gastroenterological Association, and have spoken in national and international conferences on the management of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases.
The Crohn's and Colitis Center offers the latest leading-edge surgical procedures, always striving to achieve the best possible outcomes for each patient. These include:
Our surgeons perform some of the highest volumes of colorectal surgery and laproscopic colorectal surgery in New England. All of the members of our world-renowned surgery staff belong to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery and have held leadership positions in preeminent surgical organizations.
Our colorectal surgeons have particular expertise related to the surgical management of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
Learn more about colorectal surgery in the Department of Surgery
Together with Dr. Jeffrey Ecker, Dr. Allison Bryant Mantha and Dr. Kristen Eckler from the Mass General Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Crohn's and Colitis Center has a multidisciplinary approach to high-risk obstetrical care, pre-pregnancy and fertility counseling, as well as uro-gynecological care. Our surgeons are specially trained in minimally invasive gynecological surgery and have expertise in the management of complex rectovaginal fistulas and urogynecological complications related to inflammatory bowel disease. We hold joint conferences with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to discuss complex cases that require the input of expert gastroenterologists, obstetricians and gynecologists to ensure that a woman is receiving appropriate IBD care from reproductive age through menopause and before, throughout and after her pregnancy.
Recognizing that the care of patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis involves much more than medications and surgery, the Crohn’s and Colitis Center aims to provide a comprehensive panel of management options for addressing the consequences of these diseases beyond their primary symptoms. These consequences include the impact on the abilities of patients to maintain their nutritional status, as well as the impact on patients’ quality of life.
We provide the opportunity for consultations with nutritionists with significant experience in the management of gastrointestinal illnesses. Patients are encouraged to discuss ways of maintaining and building up their nutritional status and correcting vitamin deficiencies while keeping symptoms under control. They can also work with the nutritionists to identify and eliminate potential dietary triggers of their symptoms.
Apart from the physical symptoms, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can also significantly impact one's psychological status. Individuals with these conditions are at higher risk for depression and anxiety. Moreover, stress can also serve as a trigger for disease flares for some patients. The Crohn’s and Colitis Center provides both one-time and repeat consultations with a psychologist experienced in the management of chronic illness to address this aspect of care.
Recognizing the enormous heterogeneity in patient presentation, natural history of disease, likelihood of response to treatment or development of adverse effects, and impact of disease on quality of life, our center is strongly committed to enhancing our understanding of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, towards the eventual goal of being able to personalize therapy for each patient. Some of the physician scientists at our center are international leaders in genetics and pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel diseases. We offer all patients an opportunity to participate in ongoing studies at our center that will improve our understanding of these diseases and help develop novel therapies. Our physicians are also involved in studies that aim to understand the effect of environmental factors, including diet and stress, on these diseases.
Patient education and support are important components of our mission. We are committed to helping patients understand their disease, assess their treatment options, participate in their treatment decisions and feel in control of their disease.
Enterostomal therapy nurses assist in the care and instruction of patients with ileostomies and colostomies. Our nurses are certified in wound ostomy and continence.
Our patients are welcome to attend the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America support group, which holds regular meetings at our center.
We provide patients and referring physicians with an experienced access coordinator and a clinician who is available to assess patients' needs, coordinate appointments and begin the appropriate testing regimen.
Contact the Crohn's and Colitis Center's access coordinator
The Crohn's and Colitis Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital is one of the few comprehensive, multidisciplinary programs in New England dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Our team of providers has been recognized both nationally and internationally for groundbreaking research and outstanding patient care. Massachusetts General Hospital is ranked among the nation's top hospitals for gastroenterology, with Magnet award-winning nurses providing patients with compassionate, timely care. Magnet designation represents the highest honor available for nursing excellence and is achieved by fewer than 7% of hospitals in the United States.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are lifelong diseases, and we treat patients of all ages.
We offer a full range of conventional, innovative and investigational medical therapies and surgical procedures for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Our services include:
Whenever possible, multiple appointments can be scheduled for the same visit.
Many patients are referred to the Crohn's and Colitis Center for a second opinion consultation from one of our world-class physicians. Patients benefit most from obtaining a second opinion because our physicians review each patient's previously assessed condition and discuss the full range of available treatments.
Contact our access coordinator to schedule a consultation
We provide patients and referring physicians with an experienced access coordinator and a clinician who helps assess patient needs, coordinate appointments and begin the appropriate testing regimen.
All calls will be returned within 24 hours, if not within the same working day.
Our physicians are active in clinical trials and research studies related to new therapies for inflammatory bowel diseases, allowing us to bring our patients promising new treatments as quickly as possible.
Patients interested in participating in clinical trials can also browse online for open trials.
At the Mass General Crohn's and Colitis Center, we believe that each patient can significantly improve our knowledge of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and contribute towards understanding the factors that influence the development of these diseases, behavior of the disease and response to treatments. All of our physicians at the Crohn's and Colitis Center are actively involved in research programs aimed at understanding the underlying cause of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, with the goal of developing more effective therapies.
Our patients can also choose to participate in an ongoing landmark study of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, known as PRISM. Through PRISM, we are investigating the genetic causes of Crohn's and colitis, with a goal of identifying markers that will predict the course of a patient's disease, response to therapies and development of side effects from treatment. This information will benefit patients by leading towards personalizing care where treatment choices can be made based on our understanding of how each individual patient's disease is likely to behave. Through PRISM, we are also studying how environmental factors including diet and stress influence disease course, development of flares and response to medications. Through other studies, we are examining novel modalities to image patients with Crohn's and colitis, avoiding the need for invasive tests as well as examining the effect of these diseases on pregnancy and health outcomes in children.
Please ask to speak to a research coordinator if you are interested in participating in any of these studies.
The Crohn's and Colitis Center at Mass General is a performance site for several multi-million dollar research initiatives funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), including the Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (CSIBD) and the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Genetics Consortium (IBDGC).
The CSIBD is a multidisciplinary program established in 1991 with the goal of defining fundamental mechanisms underlying Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The CSIBD encompasses 101 investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University and the Whitehead Institute, all pursuing research in a broad spectrum of basic science relevant to Crohn's and colitis. These research programs include extensive work on the role of bacteria in the digestive tract and the genetic factors that cause Crohn's and colitis.
The IBDGC was created by NIDDK in 2002 to advance knowledge in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The Consortium consists of six genetic research centers and a data coordinating center. The IBDGC is involved with independent genetic research studies and works with members of the IBD and genetic communities on collaborative projects. Dr. Xavier's laboratory has been collaborating with the GRC at the University of Montreal since 2008, conducting genetic analyses to identify genes and loci associated with IBD.
In addition, we host an internationally recognized annual symposium on inflammatory bowel disease. The symposium draws experts from around the world who share their expertise and explore the latest advances in the causes of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
In 2011, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) selected Dr. Ramnik Xavier, Chief of the Mass General Gastrointestinal Unit, to lead their innovative IBD Genetics Initiative campaign, which seeks to raise six to ten million dollars over the next three to five years to study human genetic variants that correlate with IBD risk or protection.
The Crohn's and Colitis Center's Dr. Ramnik Xavier was the coauthor of a landmark publication that described 30 new genes that may contribute to Crohn's disease and has since led the identification of more than 150 genes contributing to Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Dr. Richard Hodin, director of the Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Epithelial Biology, is investigating a promising new therapy called intestinal alkaline phosphatase.
Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that is a chronic condition that may recur at various times over a lifetime.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease in which the inner lining of the large intestine (colon or bowel) and rectum become inflamed.
The Crohn's and Colitis Support Group is sponsored by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and held at Massachusetts General Hospital. The group is an informal resource to share stories, gather support, and learn about coping. Friends and family members are welcome to attend.
We welcome patients with a new or existing colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy, and their family and friends, to monthly meetings of the Massachusetts General Hospital Ostomy Support Group.
Crohn’s and Colitis Center
To begin the appointment process, contact the Crohn's and Colitis Center access coordinator at 617-724-6005 or request an appointment online.
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