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Diagnosis - Crohn's disease

Crohn's disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because it can have similar symptoms to lots of other conditions.

A GP can check for any obvious causes of your symptoms and refer you for more tests if needed.

Seeing a GP

To find out what the problem might be, the GP may ask about:

  • your symptoms
  • your diet
  • if you've been abroad recently – you might have an infection
  • any medicines you're taking
  • if you have a family history of Crohn's disease

They may also:

  • feel and examine your tummy
  • take a sample of blood
  • ask you to provide a poo (stool) sample

Blood and stool samples can be tested for things like inflammation – which could be due to Crohn's disease – and infections. It may take a few days or weeks to get the results.

Referral to a specialist

If they think you could have Crohn's disease, a GP may refer you to a doctor called a gastroenterologist for tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Tests you may have include:

  • a colonoscopy – a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is inserted into your bottom to look for inflammation in your bowel
  • a biopsy – tiny pieces of your bowel are removed during a colonoscopy and checked for signs of Crohn's disease
  • an MRI scan or CT scan – you may have a special drink first to make your bowel show up clearly on the scan

Video: What happens during a colonoscopy?

In this video, a nurse explains what happens during a colonoscopy.

Media last reviewed: 25 November 2019
Media review due: 25 November 2022

What happens if you're diagnosed with Crohn's disease

If a doctor thinks you have Crohn's disease, they'll tell you about the condition and the treatment options.

It might be difficult to take in everything they tell you.

If you're unsure about something later, write down any questions you have and make another appointment to go over them.

The charity Crohn's & Colitis UK has information for people diagnosed with Crohn's disease

Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021
Next review due: 22 April 2024