Inflammatory bowel disease

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The term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used to describe 2 forms of inflammatory bowel disease that share certain features but differ in others - Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC). Both are idiopathic with no known causal agent, both have patterns of familial occurrence and extraintestinal manifestations, but while UC involves only the large bowel, Crohn's disease affects any part of the gastrointestinal tract.

The pathogenesis of both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis is unknown. Numerous studies have failed to provide convincing and sustainable evidence of a distinct etiology. The two main theories are that IIBD is caused by an infectious agent of some type or that these diseases are due to a fundamental immune aberration with altered cell-mediated immunity. Dietary factors and stress have also been postulated to be causal factors.