Explore This Treatment Program

Overview

Children with a chronic illness benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to their care. We have built a team with expertise in diagnosing and managing children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Team approach for individual patients

Patients are cared for by an IBD team that includes:

  • Pediatric gastroenterologist who specializes in caring for patients with IBD
  • Experienced IBD nurse
  • Nutritionist
  • Psychologist/psychiatrist
  • Social worker
  • Pediatric surgeon
    Group photo the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease team at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
    The Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease team at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
  • Radiologists experienced in evaluating IBD
  • Pathologists with expertise in diagnosing IBD

These specialists work together in a single program to provide a comprehensive approach to the care of your child. Every patient requires individualized care reflecting this individuality. We strive to incorporate current evidence-based guidelines and ongoing clinical, translational, and basic science research to offer the most up-to-date treatment options for our patients.

Diagnosing IBD

Patient evaluation involves a detailed history and exam. Further testing may include blood testing, endoscopic testing, and radiologic studies. If your child needs a procedure (endoscopy or radiology study), our Child Life specialists will insure that you and your child’s experience is as easy as possible. In February 2012, we opened a new, state-of-the-art Pediatric Endoscopy unit with the newest equipment in a friendly and appropriate space for children, adolescents and their families.

An evaluation may also include radiology studies such as Upper GI series, Magnetic Resonance Enteroscopy (MRE), as well as other imaging techniques when indicated. Our colleagues in Pediatric Radiology use techniques that significantly limit radiation exposure to pediatric patients without compromising the quality of the study.

Our Program’s Philosophy

Each child with IBD is cared for by a primary gastroenterologist and an IBD nurse who are part of a larger team that contributes to your child's care.    

You and your family play a key role on “Your IBD team.”

Your IBD team may include nutritionists, pediatric surgeons, social workers, stoma therapists, ophthalmologists, dermatologists, and psychiatrists or psychologists when necessary. 

Education about IBD is very important in achieving the best outcomes.  All new patients meet along with the family for a private teaching session about IBD.  We will offer additional educational experiences on websites we have verified as credible.  We encourage you and your child to ask questions and actively participate in all decisions affecting you or your child's care.

Research and new knowledge result in improvements in patient care and we offer our patients the opportunity, if they choose, to be part of studies that will lead to better care of children with IBD.  Our IBD program is one of the largest contributors to the Improve Care Now IBD Registry.

Communication and accessibility are important to us.  We have a direct phone number that is answered directly by the IBD nurse 1-877-PEDI-IBD (1-877-733-4423) and a page number that is answered 24/7 by a member of the GI staff. 

Conditions and Diseases

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease is diagnosed more frequently in young adults than in children, but children can develop Crohn’s. Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect different parts of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. The most common part of the digestive tract to become inflamed is the lower part of the small bowel, called the ileum. Other common areas include the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, appendix, and colon.

Crohn’s disease does not have to affect the entire gastrointestinal tract (and rarely does). It can “skip” areas (normal areas between two inflamed areas). The inflammation goes deep into the tissues of the digestive tract and alters the entire thickness of the intestinal walls.

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Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative Colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that mostly affects the large intestine (colon). A special feature of ulcerative colitis is that it always starts in the rectum. The inflammation is also continuous, which means there are no skipped areas like there can be in Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis affects only the innermost layer of the bowel wall, called the mucosa, and the inflammation does not penetrate through the other layers (as it does in Crohn’s).

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Research & Clinical Trials

Our IBD Program also has an active research program in which patients will have the opportunity to participate in research studies trying to understand the relationship between IBD, intestinal bacteria, genetic factors, and the role that certain diets have on IBD. Our center has been selected to participate in many clinical trials of new medications for children who may not have responded to currently approved and available treatments.

Some of our clinical trials include:

  • Safety and effectiveness registry for adalimumab (Humira)
  • Long-term (20 years) safety registry for infliximab (Remicade)
  • Genetics of very early onset IBD
  • Role of the genetic markers to determine response to treatment with mesalamine
  • Efficacy study of mesalamine (Lialda) for treatment of mild to moderate ulcerative colitis
  • Efficacy study of adalimumab (Humira) for treatment of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis
  • Role of the microbiome as a biomarker for progression of IBD
  • Role of the microbiome in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Role of the microbiome in children with perianal Crohn’s disease
  • Effectiveness of the addition of methotrexate in Crohn’s disease patients starting anti-TNFα therapy
  • Infliximab dose escalation in children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Meet the Team