Explore This Center

Overview

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract that can be diagnosed at any age. There are currently over 3 million Americans with these conditions. These diseases are progressive diseases, making early effective treatment and close monitoring during care important.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Center brings together a multidisciplinary care team of specialists to provide expert diagnosis, and state-of-the-art medical and surgical interventions to provide patient-centered, personalized care.

Our multidisciplinary clinical services include:

  • Gastroenterologists with a focused expertise in Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel diseases form the core of the treatment team. Our providers have been recognized both nationally and internationally for their outstanding patient care and groundbreaking research
  • A team of nurse practitioners and registered nurses work closely with our physicians to provide comprehensive gastrointestinal care
  • Expert colorectal surgeons who provide a thoughtful and skilled approach to the surgical treatment of these diseases
  • Specialist gastrointestinal nutritionists and dieticians to work closely with the patients on the right diet plan for their clinical situation
  • Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other behavioral health specialists to assist with various aspects of mental health care in patients with IBD including anxiety, depression, coping, and pain
  • Expedited access to other medical specialists involved in the management of complications of IBD including dermatologists, rheumatologists, infectious disease experts, gynecologists, and stoma specialists
  • Close collaboration with high-risk obstetrics / maternal-fetal-medicine (MFM) specialists to co-manage all aspects of pregnancy in patients with IBD (including pre-conception counseling, monitoring during pregnancy, and development of care plan for child-birth and postnatal care)
  • Uniquely, our care extends beyond the outpatient clinic with a specialized inpatient IBD service at Mass General staffed only by IBD doctors who ensure that our patients receive the same excellent, super-specialized, care while they are hospitalized

Team members conduct a weekly interdisciplinary conference to discuss individual patients’ needs and to development consensus treatment plans for complex patients.

For patients seen on consultation, our specialists work closely with both the patient and the referring physician to coordinate a care plan designed to offer the best outcomes.

Massachusetts General Hospital is ranked among the nation's top hospitals for gastroenterology and has consistently ranked regionally as the best hospital in New England over the past decade. Our 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.

Our Multidisciplinary Services

Advanced Diagnostics

A diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease 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 colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, upper endoscopy, pouchoscopy, ileoscopy and capsule endoscopy studies. Our physicians are available around the clock to confer with referring physicians.

We also offer a full range of advanced diagnostic techniques. These include the following state-of-the-art gastrointestinal evaluation, including:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Post-surgical examinations including ileoscopy and pouchoscopy
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Video capsule endoscopy
  • Chromoendoscopy, an advanced colonoscopic evaluation that allows for better detection of precancerous changes ("dysplasia")
  • Endoscopic treatment of intestinal strictures including endoscopic balloon dilation
  • Endoscopic ultrasound examination (EUS)

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.

  • Routine diagnostic imaging, including X-rays and scans used for diagnosis
  • MRI enterography, a novel modality to diagnose and treat intestinal disorders that avoids exposure to radiation
  • CT enterography, which combines a CT scan with oral contrast for more advanced imaging and better resolution of the luminal GI tract specifically
  • Virtual colonoscopy to evaluate proximal regions of the colon that are obscured by strictures or where a colonoscopy may not be possible.
  • Second opinions of gastrointestinal imaging studies performed at other locations that would aid in patient care.

Our nationally recognized gastrointestinal pathologists have a long history of expertise in gastrointestinal pathology including diagnosing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis accurately and in identifying disease-related complications, in particular pre-cancerous changes (dysplasia) and colon cancer. They also work closely with our gastroenterologists and surgeons to provide consultations and second opinions regarding pathologic studies (biopsies) performed by your local gastroenterologist.

Innovating the Standard of Care Through State-of-the-Art Therapeutics

The Crohn’s and Colitis Center offers the full range of state-of-the-art management of IBD as well as innovative medical therapies and treatment strategies. Our physicians are experienced in formulating a personalized, patient-centered therapeutic algorithm incorporating trajectory of disease as well as individual patient preferences. They also help patients obtain relief from persistent, difficult-to-manage symptoms. They are known around the world for their experience treating inflammatory bowel disease and have been involved in the formulation of many national and international treatment guidelines for their complex diseases.

Our physicians are also 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 active in our center 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 regularly lecture at other institutions as well as many regional, national and international conferences on the management of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Leading Surgical Interventions

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:

  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Robotic surgery
  • Bowel-conserving surgery, which minimizes the need for the amount of bowel that needs to removed, leaving more of the bowel intact for optimal function
  • State-of-the art treatment for perianal diseases including management of complex fistulae

Our surgeons perform some of the highest volumes of colorectal surgery and laparoscopic 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 hold leadership positions in preeminent surgical organizations.

Learn more about colorectal surgery in the Department of Surgery

Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Evaluation and Treatment Services

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.

Specialist Nutritionist and Dietary Care

We provide all patients with 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.

Psychologist and Mental Health Care

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 single and longitudinal consultations with psychologists and other behavior specialists in the management of chronic illness to address this aspect of care as well as food aversion that develops in the setting of IBD. We also provide cognitive behavioral therapy and facilitate other mind-body interventions to provide a holistic approach to the management of IBD.

Multidisciplinary Involvement of Other Medical Specialists

We recognize that patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis often have symptoms or diseases that require input of other medical specialists including dermatologists, rheumatologists, hepatologists, and infectious disease experts. We have close collaborations with physicians in each of these areas to facilitate early referral, timely evaluation and development of a comprehensive treatment plan. We can facilitate joint referrals to both gastroenterologists and these other specialists at your initial or subsequent evaluation to ensure early effective treatment to restore your quality of life.  
Infusions

Our center provides access (Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:45 pm) to infusion at the main Crohn’s and Colitis location in Boston as well as in Waltham and Danvers.

Innovations in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Care Through Novel Multidisciplinary Programs

We offer various specialized centers of excellence that highlight the multidisciplinary input that is often required for the care of patients with IBD.

Pouch Center

Patients who undergo an ileoanal pouch procedure (“J pouch”) may often have issues specific to them including poor pouch function, inflammation of the pouch, strictures, and Crohn’s disease of the pouch. Our gastroenterologists, surgeons, and radiologists work closely to arrive at the right diagnosis for pouch-related symptoms and to develop the right treatment plan.

Geriatric IBD program

The treatment of older adults with IBD is often complex, requiring navigating the specific risks of various IBD treatment in the context of other medical conditions including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Our physicians with a geriatric IBD focus are specially attuned to the unique issues that address this population to ensure safe and effective treatment, and early restoration of functional independence and fitness.

PSC IBD program

Patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis have a higher risk of certain diseases including colorectal and biliary cancer. We have a collaborative clinical and research program between our IBD gastroenterologists, hepatologists, radiologists, and interventional endoscopists to serve the unique need of this population. This collaborative care is also a resource for patients with other liver diseases in the setting of IBD.

Specialized Inpatient Care for Hospitalized Patients

We recognize that specific expertise is required in the often challenging situation of managing patients with IBD who are hospitalized. We offer specialized inpatient IBD care where each hospitalized IBD patient is managed by one of our expert IBD-focused gastroenterologists. We also offer opportunities for patients who are hospitalized at other institutions to be transferred to our center for higher level care in the setting of complex needs.

Personalizing IBD Therapy for Each Individual Patient

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, the physicians in our center are strongly committed to developing a patient-centered and personalized therapeutic approach based on an individual patient profile. Many of our physicians are involved in cutting-edge research in this field to define the role of genetics, microbiome, and other blood and stool tests to understand the best treatment strategy for each individual patient.

In addition to recognizing the effect of inflammation, our physicians recognize that lifestyle and behavioral factors play an important role in the treatment of IBD. Our physicians are actively involved in studies on the role of diet in the treatment of IBD as well as to understand the best approach to treat stress, mood disturbances, and fatigue that are prevalent in these diseases .

Women's Reproductive Health Center

Together with Dr. Jeffrey EckerDr. 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. Care of the patient with IBD contemplating pregnancy begins with pre-conception counseling to discuss the optimal timing for a safe and healthy pregnancy outcome, close monitoring throughout pregnancy, formulating an optimal childbirth plan, and post-partum care. Our surgeons are also 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 regular 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.

Telehealth and Remote Consultation

All our physicians provide telehealth consultations (pending approval by your insurance) through video platforms for one-time second opinions as well as continued care. 

Research and Clinical Trials: Advancing care of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Through Cutting-Edge Research

At the Mass General Crohn's and Colitis Center, we believe in integrating outstanding clinical care with cutting-edge research to offer answers that address the needs of our patients and advance scientific understanding of these complex diseases. We believe that every patient can significantly improve our knowledge of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, contribute 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 and improve in our quality of life.

Interested patients can participate in research through enrollment in our ongoing patient registries, enroll in clinical trials of novel therapies, or participate in studies aimed at developing new treatment strategies including harnessing the dietary, lifestyle, and behavioral changes in the management of these diseases.

Landmark Patient Registry Studies

There are many ongoing patient registries that have provided pioneering insight into the development of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and have been fundamental in defining the role of genetics and microbiome in the development of these diseases.

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 mechanisms of development of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, with a goal of identifying determinants in the blood, stool, or biopsies that predict the course of a patient's disease, response to therapies and development of side effects from treatment. This information will directly benefit patients by leading towards personalized care where informed treatment choices can be made based on an 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.

The Crohn's and Colitis Center at Mass General is also a 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). 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 Mass General, 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.

Please ask to speak to a research coordinator if you are interested in participating in any of these studies.

Cutting-Edge Clinical Trials of New Treatments

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.

Below are the list of some of the ongoing trials for patients who may be not responding to one of their existing treatments for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

[Phase 3] Darvadstrocel (Cx601) to treat Complex Perianal Fistulizing Crohn’s Disease. Patients with Crohn’s disease who have perianal fistula related issues often respond less well to treatment. Mass General is a site for an international, multi-center trial examining the use of stem cell injections into the fistula to facilitate healing.

[Phase 2a] TAK-018 to prevent postoperative Crohn’s Disease recurrence. TAK-018 is a small molecule drug aimed to block a group of bacteria present in the gut that may be triggering inflammation in patients who recently had a resection surgery for Crohn’s Disease.

[Phase 3] Filgotinib to treat moderate to severe Crohn’s Disease. Filgotinib is an investigational drug called a “JAK1 inhibitor” that is a pill taken once a day. We, as part of a multi-center trial, are studying its ability to treatment Crohn’s disease that has not responded to other standard treatments.

[Phase 3] Risankizumab to treat moderate to severe Ulcerative Colitis. Risankizumab is an investigational drug called a “IL-23p9 inhibitor”. It is taken by intravenous infusion or injection under the skin. We are part of a phase 3 trial to examine its ability to treat otherwise unresponsive ulcerative colitis.

Patients interested in participating in clinical trials can also browse online for open trials.

Patient-centered Clinical Investigation and Trials

Physicians at the Mass General Crohn’s and Colitis center are committed to conduct studies that answer the key patient needs that are unmet by existing research. There are many ongoing research opportunities for participation in studies examining these important questions.

Studies of Diet

Physicians at the Mass General Crohn’s and Colitis center have led many pioneering studies in understanding the role of dietary and environmental factors in the development of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Our physicians are conducting clinical trials examining the ability of various dietary strategies to treat inflammation in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In addition to understanding if these diets work, these studies also aim to understand how diet impacts inflammation through its effect on the microbiome, and how such effects may be replicated by microbiome-directed therapies such as probiotics.

Study of Older Adults With IBD (LOGIC)

Recognizing that IBD is increasingly affecting older individuals, our investigators have launched one of the first regional registries in New England specifically aimed to understand the needs and best strategies of treating IBD in older individuals including both the safety and the effectiveness of various medical therapies and surgery in this population.

Fatigue in IBD

Nearly four in 10 patients with IBD experience significant fatigue despite being in remission from their disease. Recognizing the negative impact of this persistent symptom, our physicians are systematically studying this and have made some key observations about how our intestinal bacteria may impact energy levels. They are leading ongoing clinical trials examining the ability of specific probiotics to address fatigue in patients with IBD.

The RIPPLE Study

We are focused on understanding why some patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis experience flares up of their disease. There are two ongoing studies aimed at understanding how environmental factors including diet may lead to a flare up in these diseases. These studies also aim to define changes in the intestinal bacteria as well as in blood, stool, and intestinal lining to understand how they lead to flare ups with the goal of preventing relapses in patients once they have achieved remission.

Microscopic Colitis Study and Registry

Our physicians are also leading a study to understand the development of a specific type of IBD called microscopic colitis. These investigations will help us understand how to better treat and prevent this disorder.

South Asian IBD Study

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have emerged as global diseases. Our investigators are committed to identifying better ways to prevent these Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis by studying populations where these diseases are emerging including those of South Asian ancestry.

The ACTIVATED Study

Anti-TNF therapy has revolutionized treatment for IBD, however many patients do not adequately respond to these therapies. In addition, immunosuppression is associated with side effects including infections and rare cancers. Thus, there is the need for safe non-immune suppressive treatments . This study aims to understand the effect of Vitamin D3 supplementation as an adjunct therapy for patient with IBD who are starting a new anti-TNF therapy to see if it can boost the effectiveness of this treatment without any adverse effects.

Patient Education and Support

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.

If you are interested in obtaining more information about the various medical therapy for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, please click on the links below.

Our patients are welcome to attend the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America support group, which holds regular monthly meetings at our center.

Information for Patients and Referring Providers

A Dedicated Referral Line for Physicians and Patients

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.

Contact the Crohn's and Colitis Center's access coordinator

All calls will be returned within 24 hours, if not within the same working day.

Second Opinions

Many patients are referred to the Crohn's and Colitis Center for a second opinion consultation from one of our world-class physicians. For achieving the most benefit from a second opinion, our nurses and coordinators will work with you to ensure all the relevant records are available prior to your appointment and our physicians can discuss the full set of treatment options for you.

Contact our access center and send a referral 

Multidisciplinary consultation

If you are a referring physician and believe your patient may benefit from consultation with multiple specialists in addition to our gastroenterologists, please contact us so we can assistant in setting up the relevant appointment with other specialists.

Telehealth and Remote Consultation

All our physicians provide telehealth consultations (pending approval by your insurance) through video platforms for one-time second opinions as well as continued care.

Care During COVID-19

Our dedicated physicians, nurses and staff are committed to providing the best possible specialty care⁠—safely and effectively. We have taken unprecedented steps to ensure office visits and procedures (endoscopy and surgery) are welcoming and safe. Your health is our top priority.

Learn more