Long delays for diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease


A new study has found one in ten people with inflammatory bowel disease visited their doctor with symptoms five years before receiving a diagnosis.

Inflammatory bowel disease is a term used to describe two main conditions, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and is thought to affect around 300,000 people in the UK. The condition causes inflammation in the gut, and can trigger symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal pain and rectal bleeding.

In the new study, published in the Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, researchers at St George’s, University of London, Imperial College London, University College London and King’s College London, studied the records of 19,000 people in England with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease between 1998-2016.

The results revealed some patients experienced gastrointestinal symptoms up to 10 years before they were diagnosed, while 10 per cent of patients visited their doctor with symptoms five years before being diagnosed. The condition is diagnosed through a variety of blood and stool tests, as well as examinations.

The team explained the delayed diagnosis may be due to the symptoms being mistaken for other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and haemorrhoids.

This study benefited from NIHR investment through  NIHR Northwest London Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) and the School for Public Health, with support from the Imperial NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.

For full story published on Imperial News by Kate Wighton, click here.

© Imperial College London