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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosis: Tests and Procedures

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosis: Tests and Procedures

Experiencing the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease is not enough to determine if you have IBD or not. Patients will need to undergo proper inflammatory bowel disease diagnosis, which can include various tests and procedures overseen by your doctor.

Here’s a breakdown of those procedures, as well as what you need to know about them.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diagnosis

It’s normal for people to feel anxious before visiting their doctor. This is especially true if they’re experiencing symptoms that could possibly be a sign of a more serious health problem.

In some cases, it’s a good idea to read up on how a diagnosis is done in order to ease your fears. This way, you are more informed about what’s going to happen, and you know what to expect from the procedures that you’ll need to undergo.

Here are some things to expect:

Checking your medical history

The first thing that your doctor would do is to check your medical history. This helps give your doctor an idea of what might be causing your symptoms, and if you’ve experienced similar symptoms in the past.

This helps them narrow down the possible causes, and rule out conditions that might be unrelated to what you’re experiencing.

Your doctor will also do a physical exam to observe any signs regarding your condition, such as pain or tenderness when certain parts of your abdomen are touched. This also gives your doctor an idea about your overall state of health.

Stool test

If you’re experiencing symptoms related to your digestion, then a stool test is usually done. Undergoing a stool test can let the doctor know if there’s any inflammation in your digestive tract that could be triggering your symptoms.

Blood test

While blood tests don’t directly diagnose IBD, it provides doctors clues that might point to what the problem is. It also lets the doctor learn more about your body’s state of health, and assess the function of your other organs, and not just your digestive tract.

Depending on the type of blood test, you might need to fast for a number of hours before the procedure. Be sure to ask the clinic or the technician about what preparations you need to make beforehand.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: What Are the Different Types?

Upper Endoscopy

An endoscopy is a general term for procedures that use endoscopes to look inside your body. Endoscopes are long tubes that have cameras and other tools inside that allow doctors to check your digestive tract and even take tissue samples or a biopsy.

Endoscopy is very important in diagnosing IBD since it shows the doctor any signs of inflammation in your stomach or intestine.

An upper endoscopy in particular, looks at your upper gastrointestinal tract. This includes your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of your small intestine.

During the procedure, you will be sedated, so there’s no need to worry.

IBD vs IBS: What are the Differences Between These Two Conditions?


A colonoscopy is a type of endoscopic procedure that looks at the state of your colon and the terminal ileum, or end of the small intestine. This should clearly show if there’s any inflammation or problems that might confirm if you have IBD.

However, you will have to make some preparations beforehand. You’ll need to restrict your diet based on your doctor’s recommendation, and you’ll need to drink a liquid prescribed by your doctor. This liquid essentially gives you diarrhea, and purges your bowel of any fecal matter. This helps give the physician a better look at your colon during the procedure.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests, such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans can give your doctor a closer look at your body. Through these tests, they will able to see any inflammation or problems that might be causing your symptoms. It’s also used by doctors to assess how the treatment is going for patients who are already diagnosed with IBD.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to diagnosing and treating IBD, you should always seek professional medical help and do not self-diagnose. They are in the best position to assess your case and prescribe the best treatment for you.

Learn more about IBD here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Diagnosing and Managing IBD, https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/pdfs/diagnosing-and-managing-ibd.pdf, Accessed January 8, 2021

Diagnosing Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Adults | NYU Langone Health, https://nyulangone.org/conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease-in-adults/diagnosis#:~:text=Endoscopic%20procedures%E2%80%94such%20as%20colonoscopy,Crohn’s%20disease%20and%20ulcerative%20colitis., Accessed January 8, 2021

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353320, Accessed January 8, 2021

Inflammatory Bowel Disease | Lab Tests Online, https://labtestsonline.org/conditions/inflammatory-bowel-disease, Accessed January 8, 2021

IBD, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Symptoms, Treatment, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15587-inflammatory-bowel-disease-overview, Accessed January 8, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Feb 28
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.