Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Yale New Haven Health’s Digestive Health service line offers the only comprehensive Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program in Connecticut. Our IBD Program offers a unique team-based approach that includes the patient, family members and caregivers. Gastroenterologists with advanced training and expertise in diagnosing and treating complex and difficult to treat patients with inflammatory bowel disease - Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis - lead the care team. Together they provide coordinated care for the full range of needs from medical and surgical options to nutrition and psychological care to achieve optimal wellness for the patient.

Advanced and Innovative Care

With Yale New Haven Health, patients have peace of mind knowing that they are getting the best care and treatment available. As leaders in IBD research and treatment, our patients have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials that offer new and advanced therapies. Our physicians conduct research at Yale School of Medicine, one of only six genetic research centers supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) seeking to advance the discovery of genes influencing an individual’s risk for developing ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Additionally, we offer opportunities for patients to participate in research studies evaluating mood disorders and IBD, and multi-center new drug and surgical treatment protocols for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

As leaders in their field, the gastroenterology team reviews difficult cases with colleagues from across the U.S., making is unnecessary for patients to seek a second opinion because it is included in our process. Other physicians and patients regularly turn to us for second opinions on diagnoses and assistance for complex cases.

When Should I See an IBD Specialist?

  • When your primary care doctor suggests you see a gastroenterologist or IBD specialist.
  • When first line therapies are no longer effective.
  • When your doctor wants you to go on biologics/IV Therapy/infusion.
  • When it’s suspected that you may need surgery.
  • Diagnosis

    An accurate diagnosis is most important, and there is no single test to diagnose Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other bowel diseases.

    Only Yale New Haven Health offers a comprehensive process involving multiple diagnostic steps, where all information is evaluated by IBD specialists:

    • Symptoms and medical history
    • Blood tests
    • Stool studies
    • Imaging (Radiology)
      • Computed tomography enterography (CTE)
      • Magnetic resonance enterography (MRE))
    • Advanced endoscopy (replaces basic colonoscopy)
      • Video capsule endoscopy
      • Chromo-endoscopy
      • Sigmoidoscopy (as a research protocol only)
    • Biopsy and pathology review for pre-cancer and cancer screening

    Treatment

    At Yale New Haven Health, our unique approach to treating Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other bowel diseases include a multidisciplinary team of specially trained IBD experts who meet weekly to develop the most comprehensive treatment plan for each patient.

    Treatment for IBD usually begins with medications; however, surgery may be a primary therapy for certain symptoms of IBD. Surgery is often used in addition to or to supplement medical treatment. Our goal is to restore our patients’ quality of life, using bowel-conserving and minimally invasive surgeries where appropriate.

    To administer select medications we offer infusion centers with an onsite pharmacy. A specially certified pharmacist mixes the complex medications needed for our IBD patients. Infusion nurses administer the medications and physicians continually monitor patients while they are undergoing treatment.

    • Medications – First line therapy includes anti-inflammatory medicines that can be effective when properly prescribed and monitored
    • Immune modulators
    • Biologic therapies (used to selectively stop certain proteins in the body from causing inflammation)

    While surgery can be a primary therapy for symptoms of IBD, it is usually reserved as an adjunct for medical therapy. We approach gastrointestinal surgery with a goal to restore function using bowel-conserving surgery and minimally invasive procedures where appropriate.

    • Second opinions for diagnoses, medication review and surgical referrals.
    • Complex cases reviewed at weekly multidisciplinary team meeting.
    • Access to clinical trials through Yale School of Medicine.
    • Nurses are certified by the Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society, recognized world-wide for advanced training and promotion of safe and effective wound, ostomy and continence care.
    • WOCN-certified ostomy and wound care nurse works with patients and their families pre- and post- surgery teaching ostomy care and providing support.