Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center IBD Glossary

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The following are commonly used medical terms associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It is important to know that NOT all of the terms on this list will apply to you or your child’s condition. Feel free to discuss any of these terms with your healthcare team.

  • Abscess – a localized collection of pus caused by an infection. Symptoms can depend on the location of the abscess, but typically include pain and fever.

  • Absorption – when nutrients pass from the intestine into the blood stream.

  • Anemia – when the blood doesn't have enough red blood cells.

  • Anus – the opening at the end of the digestive track where bowel contents leave the body.

  • Biopsy – the removal of a small piece of tissue used to make a diagnosis.

  • Bowel – the long tube-shaped organ that completes the process of digestion. There is both a small and a large bowel. The bowel is also called the intestine.

  • Colon – the large intestine. The primary function is to absorb water and get rid of solid waste.

  • Crohn’s Disease (CD) – an inflammatory disease that can occur anywhere in the GI tract (from the mouth to the anus). Usually involves the last part of the small intestine, the terminal ileum.

  • Digestion – the process of breaking down food into its simplest chemical compounds so that it can be absorbed.

  • Disease – a condition of being from a particular cause that requires ongoing treatment. 

  • Duodenum – the first part of the small intestine that connects the stomach to the small intestine.

  • Esophagus – the tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach.

  • Fissure – a tear or ulcer in the lining of the anal canal. Symptoms include painful bowel movements and bright red blood in toilet bowel or on toilet paper.

  • Fistula – an abnormal tunnel connecting two body cavities or connecting a body cavity to the skin. Symptoms of fistulas can include pain, fever, tenderness, itching, and generally feeling poorly. The fistula may also drain pus or a foul-smelling discharge. These symptoms vary based on the severity and location of the fistula. A fistula may form an abscess when it closes or if it becomes infected.

  • Flare – a period of more active disease symptoms, such as abdominal pain or an increase in bloody stools.

  • Hemorrhoids – swollen blood vessels in and around the anus and lower rectum that stretch under pressure.

  • Ileum – the lower end of the small intestine that connects to the large intestine.

  • Indeterminate Colitis – a colitis with features of both CD and UC but not a definitive diagnosis of either one.

  • Induction – the process of making a sick patient well usually with medications.

  • Inflammation – a process in which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals can protect us from infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. Inflammation causes redness, irritation and/or swelling.

  • Jejunum – the middle section of the small intestine.

  • Maintenance Medication – used for long-term therapy to help stay well.

  • Proctitis – an inflammation of the rectum.

  • Rectum – the final portion of the large intestine that holds stool.

  • Rescue Medication – used for a short period of time to treat a flare or calm symptoms down (induce remission).

  • Remission – a period when disease symptoms are less active and you feel well.

  • Skin Tag – a benign growth of skin that is connected to the body by a short stalk.

  • Small intestine – an organ that connects the stomach to the large intestine. It absorbs nutrients.

  • Stricture – a closure or obstruction of the intestine.

  • Ulcerative Colitis – an inflammatory disease of the colon (large intestine).

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