Ulcerative Colitis in Houston, TX

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About Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by the presence of ulcers along the large intestine. When these sores erupt within the lining of the colon, they can often bleed profusely, which creates interference between digestion and bowel movements. While the precise cause of these ulcers is unknown, some professionals in the medical industry believe they form due to bacteria or parasites, resulting in inflammation of the affected area. Ulcerative colitis most commonly affects the lower portion of the colon and rectum, but the damage can develop anywhere along the track of the large intestine. Many patients with this form of colitis will be diagnosed when they're 15 – 30 years old, but any individual can develop this condition regardless of their age.

These ulcers can lead to severe bleeding, dehydration, diarrhea, and a host of other issues if left untreated. At Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery, our board-certified team of surgeons provides patients with access to helpful nonsurgical management care, as well as advanced surgical treatments for their ulcerative colitis. While there is no cure for this life-inhibiting disease, our team does what we can to help restore your happiness and wellness. If you're experiencing debilitating symptoms, such as severe diarrhea, bloody stools, fatigue, or pain, contact our North Houston or West Houston, TX offices for specialist assistance and high-quality, personalized care.

Signs and Symptoms

Patients with UC may experience symptoms that range in severity from mild to intense. Some common warning signs of the disease include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal pain
  • Strange sounds coming from the abdomen
  • Bloody stools
  • Severe diarrhea
  • An urgent feeling of needing to make a bowel movement
  • Fatigue
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Fever

Some individuals may be at a higher risk of developing ulcerative colitis if they are white, have a family history of inflammatory bowel disease, or are below 30 years of age. If left untreated, the symptoms that result from ulcerative colitis could potentially lead to extreme blood loss, dehydration, a perforated colon, inflammation of the joints, eyes, and skin, swelling of the colon, bone loss, or an increased chance of developing colon cancer. To maintain your gastrointestinal and overall health, it's essential that you have any abnormalities looked at by a trained professional as soon as possible. Any of the symptoms that manifest from this condition can be debilitating and detrimental to your well-being.

What to Expect

Before diagnosing you with ulcerative colitis, our doctors will first rule out other potential conditions that could be causing your symptoms. The process for detecting UC will involve a thorough physical exam and a detailed review of your personal medical history. Following this, a series of tests will be needed. This can include CT scans and x-rays of the abdomen and pelvic areas, blood tests, stool samples, a full colonoscopy of the rectum and colon, or a sigmoidoscopy. The results from these diagnostics will help our experienced doctors narrow down what could be causing your symptoms, as well as determine the severity of your condition. From there, we will work with you to determine the best course of management and treatment.

Treatment Options

Even though ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease with no known cure apart from partial or full removal of the colon, patients have a range of options available to help manage their symptoms and prevent flare-ups. The goal of medicinal treatment for UC is to reduce the level of inflammation in the large intestine. In turn, this will allow individuals to experience longer periods of remission. You may be prescribed drugs to minimize inflammation, as well as corticosteroids and antibiotics, depending on your unique needs. Receiving a personalized diet plan may also help control minor to moderate symptoms. Normally, patients with ulcerative colitis are advised to follow a low-fat diet and take in more Vitamin C and fiber. Our surgeons may also encourage you to keep track of a food diary so you can better understand which foods have what effects on your body.

While nonsurgical management of ulcerative colitis is available, there may be some people who require additional care. Surgical treatment for UC may be necessary for patients who experience a significant amount of blood loss, a blockage, debilitating symptoms, perforated colon, or those who no longer benefit from medicinal treatment. Surgery for ulcerative colitis could be performed on an elective basis or if a medical emergency arises. While some procedures can be performed with minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, emergency operations will nearly always implement an open surgical technique. The two primary types of UC surgery are:

  • Proctocolectomy with ileostomy is a procedure that removes the entirety of the large intestine, both the colon and the rectum. Once the organ is extracted, the end of the small intestine (called the ileum) is moved to the lower abdomen, and an opening is made. This opening allows waste to pass through the small intestine and leave the body. After this surgery, waste will collect outside of the body and be deposited into an ostomy pouch. Since the stool will exit the body from the small intestine, it will not be solid. Patients who have this operation are not able to feel the movements as the stool exits the body.
  • Proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA) involves the removal of the colon and most of the rectum, leaving the sphincter muscles in-tact. The small intestine is then utilized to craft a pouch where the waste will collect inside of the body. This pouch acts similarly to the rectum and is often called a J-pouch. Once the pseudo-rectum has been created, it will be attached to the sphincter muscles. This surgery allows stool to pass through the anus. Any stool that passes will be liquid rather than solid.

At Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery, our colorectal specialists will select the treatment and methodology that is the safest and most effective for your unique situation. Prior to your operation, we will go over how you can prepare for your surgery. This may include avoiding particular medications for a certain amount of time, not eating on the day of your operation, what time to arrive at the hospital, and more. We will also provide you with all of the post-operative care information that you need, such as how to care for an ostomy bag, what to eat following surgery, and how much time you need to fully recover.

Colon Ulcer Management

Men and women who suffer from ulcerative colitis don't need to feel helpless any longer. Even though the disease is chronic, recent developments in the medical industry have made living with this form of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) easier and more comfortable. With certain nonsurgical and surgical treatments, patients can enjoy longer periods of remission and better control of their symptoms. Contact Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery or visit one of our North Houston or West Houston, TX offices to learn more about your options for ulcerative colitis management.

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