Patients and families of patients frequently ask the following questions. We hope they answer some of your basic questions, too.

How is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) diagnosed?

A diagnosis of IBD is made by taking a careful history and then confirming the history with a combination of a physical exam, blood tests, radiologic tests (such as MRI or CT imaging), colonoscopy, and biopsy. There is no simple blood test to diagnose these complex conditions. Because these are lifelong, chronic conditions and the treatments work better when started early, it is important to get the diagnosis correctly and promptly.

What causes IBD?  

Currently, we do not know a definitive cause of these inflammatory bowel diseases. They appear to be complex disorders driven by a combination of genetic risk factors, immune dysfunction, and environmental exposure. Intensive research into these factors is ongoing at the Feinstein IBD Center at Mount Sinai.

What can I eat if I have IBD?

While there’s no proven connection between diet and IBD, you may be like many patients whose symptoms get worse depending on what you eat. Your dietary needs are unique to you. To help you, we have a registered dietician on staff who can guide in making food choices to minimize your symptoms and ensure you get adequate nutrition. We have found that when you IBD is being managed and is under control, you will be free of dietary issues.

If I have IBD, can I have a family?

At the IBD Center’s pre-conception clinic, we will counsel you and create an individualized plan to ensure a positive family planning experience for you. In general, there are no concerns for IBD patients who want to have a family.

Can I work or go to school if I have IBD?

When effectively treated, IBD should have little or no impact on your life. However, if left untreated, IBD can disrupt family life, work, and school. We are here to help you.

Are the treatments for IBD effective and safe?

There are now more effective treatment choices for IBD than ever before. Though the options for treatment and potential side effects can be intimidating, we can help you make the right choices for you. Our physicians at the Feinstein IBD Center are here to help you with your quality of life by also minimizing short- and long-term side effects of your treatments.

Do all patients with IBD need surgery?

No. Our IBD specialists will help you explore all the medical options available to help you avoid surgery. However, if surgery becomes necessary, we have expert IBD surgeons who work closely with our gastroenterologists. And, we have the expertise to tailor minimally invasive surgical strategies with medical therapy to restore your health.