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What to Expect When Testing for UC
Ulcerative Colitis Testing and Diagnosis
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Ulcerative Colitis symptoms can be easily mistaken with other illnesses. Before you will undergo any of the tests mentioned below, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and will look into your medical history.
In order for your doctor to provide you with a correct diagnosis, he may have you undergo several types of tests. Be sure to inform your doctor properly of the symptoms you experience, so that he/she can also recommend the proper tests. You will begin seeing a gastroenterologist, who will be largely in charge of keeping up and treating your IBD. Keeping up with appointments is usually the biggest problem with seeking medical attention for IBD patients. If you are bad with organizing, it is important that you get help keeping track of appointments and symptoms.
The most common tests administered for an Ulcerative Colitis (UC) Diagnosis are:
Plain X-Rays are pictures of the inner organs. They will be conducted first so that any injuries in the abdomen and possible perforations in the intestines and colon can be identified.
Contrast X-Rays also known as Barium X-Rays will only be conducted if the possibility of a perforated intestine and/or obstruction is ruled out. These x-rays track movement of the liquid through the intestine.
Tumors of colon, polyps, diverticulitis, and anatomical abnormalities can be found using barium x-rays.
X-Rays not only help doctors look at broken bones but help them take a look at many other injuries including those in the abdominal area. They are a quick picture of the inside of the body. There are two types of X-Rays and both are used when dealing with IBD.
Plain X-Rays are able to show narrowing and blockages or obstructions in the intestines. This can occur as a result of inflammation and scarring within the intestine. Getting a plain x-ray helps rule out the possibility of injuries affecting the area around the abdomen. One condition that doctors would like to immediately rule out is that of a perforated colon which is why plain x-rays go first.
Contrast x-rays are also known as barium x-rays. Contrast or barium x-rays track the movement of barium; the chalky, thick, liquid you sip on as a prep while in the waiting room. Usually these are for looking at a contrast image of the small intestine and to observe that the barium travels uniformly. When getting a contrast x-ray of the large intestine the procedure will be a little different. Doctors will instruct you to follow a bowel cleansing routine the day before. The barium will be inserted (via enema) into your rectum.
This may be the only procedure that your doctor will need to provide you with an Ulcerative Colitis (UC) Diagnosis, or it may not. Barium X-Rays are definitely not safe for everybody. If you have ever had a severe obstruction, or may have a perforated colon or intestine ALERT your doctor so that another technique can be used. After all, there are several ways to safely attain a correct Ulcerative Colitis (UC) Diagnosis.
UC Diagnosis with Endoscopy
The word endoscopy usually refers to the exploration of the upper GI tract, including esophagus. However, there are various methods of endoscopy used when diagnosing an Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD).
3 parts of endoscopy
Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure used to examine a person’s digestive tract. A gastroenterologist will use a flexible tube with a camera and light attached to it. This instrument is called an endoscope, it produces the imaging a team of doctors will examine.
Upper Endoscopy is used to explore the first part of the intestine. The scope is inserted through the mouth and the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine are examined. Likewise to the other methods using an endoscope, before the procedure the doctor will sedate you quickly.
Ideal drugs for endoscopic sedation have a rapid onset and short duration of action, maintain hemodynamic stability, and do not cause major side effects. Commonly used agents include opiates, such as meperidine or fentanyl, benzodiazepines, such as midazolam or diazepam, or a hypnotic, such as propofol. (Source)
Endoscopy can be broken down into 3 factors. This applies for all methods. You will be under general anesthesia, the doctor will insert a fiberoptic scope, and will have the retrograde visualization or imaging. The imaging will be examined looking for lesions, ulcers, or any abnormality.
- general anasthesia
- fiberoptic scope
- retrograde visualization of intestine
One procedure that will help your doctor make the proper determination whether you’re suffering from ulcerative colitis. This procedure involves the use of a thin and flexible lighted tube, with a camera attached to it, allowing your doctor to see any signs of inflammation at the same time, sample tissues may be taken to confirm a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. Results from an upper endoscopy may be inconclusive, and your doctor will suggest an endoscopy and colonoscopy together to have more information before drawing a conclusion.
This is a procedure people will avoid because of feelings of embarrassment or fear. Do not fret. Doctors perform many of these procedures and it helps them determine many health issues. In a colonoscopy like the name suggests the endoscope is inserted through the rectum and projects images of the colon. With the use of the thin and flexible lighted tube, with a camera attached to it, your doctor can more freely spot signs of inflammation at the same time, sample tissues will usually be taken for examination.
Like colonoscopy, this test will still utilize the thin and flexiblelighted tube that will be examining the last part of your colon. If the colon is severely inflamed, your doctor may just have you undergo sigmoidoscopy instead of a colonoscopy. Don’t worry about the pain because modern technology has made it possible for these invasive tests to become almost painless.
ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)
This involves examination of the bile ducts in the liver and the pancreatic duct. This test finds finds a liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). A small number of people are affected by PSC, and find out about this with a Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis.
This may not be as “regular” as a urine test, but this may be the most foolproof procedure that will help your doctor make the proper determination whether you’re suffering from ulcerative colitis. This procedure involves the use of a thin and flexible lighted tube, with a camera attached to it, allowing your doctor to see any signs of inflammation at the same time, sample tissues
CT Scans are efficient prior to a diagnosis as well as after.
A CT Scan can spot other issues in the body, and can be compared to previous or newer scans so that differences in appearance in the intestinal walls can be clearly seen.
You might be surprised to know that CT Scans are also used to check the presence of ulcerative colitis because they are so common and used for imaging of the entire body (especially the brain and spine). The scan will cover the abdomen and the pelvic area. This is noninvasive so you don’t have to worry about tubes being inserted in the colon. In terms of accuracy, CT scan is said to be reliable in locating inflammation in the bowels.
Blood tests for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease do not diagnose the condition.
Blood work for IBD is routine and a very helpful resource when identifying inflammation levels (critical) and liver function which are telltale signs of digestive health problems.
Blood tests help evaluate how well organs are working and sometimes diagnose diseases. Although Ulcerative Colitis cannot be diagnosed through blood work, it is a helpful tool in Ulcerative Colitis (UC) diagnosis, testing, and treatment.
Routine blood work helps identify conditions that may sometimes be mistaken as UC. This is a common problem with symptoms such as rectal bleeding, fatigue, abdominal pain, and brain fog which are symptoms for many other conditions.
Sometimes symptoms such as rectal bleeding can be mistaken for UC although this is also a very common symptom of anemia.
Blood tests are one of the most common medical tests for diagnosing many conditions.
Types of blood tests for IBD
- Full blood count (FBC)
- Ferritin and transferrin tests
- Inflammatory marker tests
- Urea and electrolytes (U&E)
- Thiopurine s-methyltransferase test (TPMT)
- Liver function tests (LFT) also known as liver enzyme test
- Tests for vitamins and minerals (Vitamin B12, Calcium, Phosphate, etc.)
Stool tests are collected in the comfort of your home and delivered to integrated laboratories that work with hospitals and clinics to collect lab work for patients.
An advantage of stool tests is the opportunity for the early detection of colorectal cancer.
Your doctor may also require you to undertake a stool exam before drawing a conclusion in the case of an ulcerative colitis (uc) diagnosis. This is to ensure that the symptoms you experience are not caused by a virus, bacteria or a parasite that causes diarrhea. The stool would be checked for the presence of white blood cells, which would be indicative of ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis (UC) Diagnosis
Do not worry or feel embarrassed.
No more excuses. No more compromises. Start right here, right now. Start right here, right now.