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Crohn's Disease Anatomy

What is Crohn's disease?

Patient Comments

Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.

What are the parts and functions of the digestive system?

  • The digestive system is made up of the digestive tract, which is a long series of organs, including the esophagus, the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestine, that runs from the mouth to the anus.
  • The digestive tract in an adult is about 30 feet long.
  • Digestion begins in the mouth where saliva begins to break down food. Food is swallowed from the mouth into the esophagus, which then moves the chewed food to the stomach. The stomach has strong muscular walls that mix and churn the food with acid and enzymes (known as gastric juice), breaking the food into smaller pieces. The processed semiliquid food, called chyme, is slowly released from the stomach into the small intestine.
  • Most digestion and absorption occurs in the small intestine. The small intestine has 3 parts: 1) the duodenum, 2) the jejunum, and 3) the ileum.
  • Enzymes and other substances made by intestinal cells, the pancreas, and the liver are secreted into the small intestine and breakdown starches, sugars, fats, and proteins. Absorption of nutrients occurs through the millions of tiny fingerlike projections called villi and the even tinier projections on the villi called microvilli.
  • Any undigested material moves to the large intestine. The large intestine or colon has four sections called the 1) cecum/ascending colon, 2) transverse colon, 3) descending colon/sigmoid, and 4) rectum.
  • The main job of the large intestine is to remove water and salts (electrolytes) from the undigested material and to form solid waste (feces) that can be excreted. The remaining contents of the large intestine move to the rectum, where feces are stored until they leave the body through the anus as a bowel movement.
Picture of Crohn's Disease
Picture of Crohn's Disease

What part of the digestive system does Crohn's disease affect?

Any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus can be involved, although it most commonly affects the end of the small intestine called the terminal ileum and the beginning of the large intestine called the cecum. The inflammation may extend deep into the tissues of the organ that is affected.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/23/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Crohn's Disease Anatomy:

Crohn's Disease Anatomy - Experience

Please share your experience with Crohn's disease.

Crohn's Disease Anatomy - Symptoms and Signs

What signs and symptoms do you experience with Crohn's disease, and how do you soothe them?

Crohn's Disease Anatomy - Complications

What complications have you experienced with Crohn's disease, and how were they treated?

Crohn's Disease Anatomy - Diet

What tips can you share with others in regard to getting proper nutrition while living with Crohn's disease?

Crohn's Disease Symptoms

Common symptoms in Crohn's disease include:

  • Crampy pain in the abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea that waxes and wanes
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Crohn Disease »

Crohn disease is an idiopathic, chronic, transmural inflammatory process of the bowel that often leads to fibrosis and obstructive symptoms, which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the mouth to the anus.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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