“A CT scan can show signs of Crohn’s disease,” says Alan Gingold, DO, a board certified gastroenterologist with the Digestive Healthcare Center of NJ.
A CT scan can easily show the thickened bowel wall that comes with Crohn’s disease.
And that’s just the beginning of what computerized axial tomography can show with this inflammatory bowel disease.
However, this doesn’t mean that a CT scan, all by itself, diagnose Crohn’s disease. It’s one of many routes to the correct diagnosis.
An abdominal CT scan takes five to 20 minutes and may involve contrast dye to improve viewing.
The value in a CT scan is that it rules out complications from Crohn’s disease such as infections, obstructions, strictures and bowel perforation.
“Inflammation, enlarged lymph nodes, fistulas, abscesses, strictures can all be seen in Crohn’s disease and can be seen on CT scan,” says Dr. Gingold.
There is a type of CT scan called enterography which translates to mapping out the intestines.
It requires a contrast dye for enhanced quality of the image of the small bowel relative to other organs. Areas of inflammation or more subtle blockages can be seen.
According to a 2014 report in the American Journal of Roentgenology (Gore et al), the CT scan is the “premier imaging procedure for evaluating mural and extraintestinal manifestations of IBD.”
CT plays a crucial role in the detection of abscesses (infections), complications beyond the intestinal tract and other issues associated with Crohn’s.
“Pathology from biopsy taken during an endoscopic examination in the proper clinical setting is the gold standard for diagnosis of Crohn’s disease,” says Dr. Gingold.
“CT scanning is usually used to help aid in the initial diagnosis or to follow progression of disease or response to treatment.”
Why CT Scan Is not the Gold Standard for Diagnosis
Dr. Gingold explains, “Other things that can look similar to Crohn’s disease on CT scan would include cancer, appendicitis and certain infections such as Yersinia, campylobacter, salmonella Entamoeba and rarely tuberculosis.”
Dr. Gingold attributes his success to the extra time he spends with his patients. His areas of expertise include reflux disease, Barrett’s esophagus, capsule endoscopy, chronic liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.