Crohn's Disease

Although there's no cure for Crohn's disease, treatments are available.


Medications are used to suppress the inflammation associated with Crohn's disease. This helps the intestines heal, relieving symptoms and possibly preventing progression of disease and potential complications. Once symptoms are under control, medications may reduce the frequency of flare-ups (relapses) and prevent symptoms from recurring.

Medications for treating the disease include aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, immunomodulators and biologic therapy.

Nutrition as Therapy or Supplementation

Nutritional therapies can also help treat or at least support nutrition and growth of children with Crohn's disease. Special formulas can be used as a primary treatment for children in place of some medications. Some newer diets are being tested by our medical team. Or, your child's doctor may recommend nutritional supplements.

A small number of patients need to be fed by tube through the nose or intravenously from time to time. This can help those who temporarily need extra nutrition, who can't eat enough, whose intestines need to rest, or who can't absorb enough nutrition from food.

You can discuss all these options with your medical team, including a dietitian familiar with the treatment of Crohn's disease.


Surgery may be suggested when medications are no longer effective. Typically, surgery removes the diseased part of the bowel and then joins the two healthy ends of the bowel together.

Another surgical option is an ileostomy. In this procedure, the surgeon creates a small opening in the abdomen — about the size of a quarter — and attaches it to the ileum (the end of the small intestine). Waste can then travel through the small intestine and exit the body through the opening and into a pouch. The patient empties the pouch as needed.

Although surgery can provide many symptom-free years, it's not considered a cure because the disease usually recurs. For this reason, doctors aim to avoid surgery or to remove as little as possible of the diseased part of the bowel.


One focus of the UCSF IBD team is to find new and sometimes experimental ways to improve the management and long-term outcomes of our patients, often through multinational research projects. Patients may have the option of participating in research trials of new therapies for IBD.

We also track the progress of almost all our patients to help improve the treatment options and information we can offer future patients.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Gastroenterology & Nutritional Disorders

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2813
Urgent Appointment Requests:: (415) 353-1235
Fax: (415) 476-1343
Appointment information

Related Conditions