Information for Patients and Families

We are a large center offering comprehensive care for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that offers a wide array of individualized services all under one roof. Our doctors and practitioners are known worldwide for their innovation, expertise and quality care. We understand Crohn’s and Colitis. We understand the toll it takes on you and your family and friends every day. We understand it isn’t easy. We understand that in addition to medications and surgeries that patients need more options. We understand that sometimes it may seem insurmountable. But, we also understand that it can get better and it should get better. We understand that we can’t just treat the disease. We have to treat the whole person and develop the plan that is right for you as an individual because everyone is unique.

Crohn's and Colitis Center Frequently Asked Questions

When can I get an appointment?

If you are being seen here for the first time, typically it will take about 48-72 hours from the receipt of your medical records to schedule your appointment. If you are an existing patient, and you need to be seen urgently, we can usually see you in within 24 hours.

New Patients will be asked submit the following reports to the BWH Crohn’s and Colitis Center prior to scheduling the appointment. In order to provide the best service possible, we will need to reschedule your appointment if these records are not received well in advance of your appointment.

Please obtain and submit the following reports if they have been done in the past. Records should be faxed to (617) 264-6308:

  • MRE (MRI of the intestinal tract)
  • CTE (CT of the intestinal tract)
  • MRCP (MRI of the Liver, Gallbladder, and Pancreas)
  • Lab Reports (blood tests and stool tests)
  • Colonoscopy, Pouchoscopy and or Ileoscopy reports
  • EGD (upper endoscopy) reports
  • Office Notes (notes from past doctors regarding your condition)
  • Pathology (biopsy results report and actual biopsy slides if still available)
  • Operative Note (surgeon’s notes from any past GI surgery)
Will I get better?

For some, it will be a shorter journey than others. This is a lifelong disease without a cure, but we aim to help you get better and offer the best tools at our disposal to help you stay better.

Since each patient is unique, our approach will be different for each person as well. Some people will require a few medications or lifestyle changes and others may require surgery and the inclusion of multiple other modalities, like mental health services and alternative therapies to feel better. The main goal, however, is always an improved quality of life.

Will you be just prescribing me medications?

Although medications are a very important part of treating IBD, it is only part of the available therapies. We offer many other modalities to help you feel better and improve your overall quality of life. Medications are part of that strategy, but you will also be followed closely while on any medication. Our team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutritionists and others will follow your progress throughout your journey to ensure that you are receiving the care you deserve.

Will I be encouraged to go directly into a surgery?

We work to maximize all the medical therapies we have at our disposal including the latest clinical trials before recommending surgery when at all possible. With that said, there are times when surgery is very appropriate and to delay surgery may put you in great harm. It is at those times when we will strongly recommend surgery and work with our expert colorectal surgeons on finding the procedure that is right for you while sparing as much bowel as possible in order for you to function optimally.

What do you have to offer that’s new?

As part of being a world-class teaching hospital, we have the ability to offer some of the latest and most promising clinical trials for medications and therapies available. In addition, it is our aim to approach your Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis from a fresh new angle by involving all the resources at our disposal to better understand who you are and how to best individualize your treatment for maximum results.

Will you work with my local physician?

Yes. We have excellent relationships with community physicians and are happy to consult as a second or third opinion, to act under the direction of your PCP or local gastroenterologist or fully take you on as our regular patient. It is your choice.

Will I be able to speak with someone when I need to?

During the day there are many of us available to talk with you and address any concerns. We aim to get back to you the same day for phone calls for routine concerns. For non-urgent patient portal messages we ask that you allow for up to 72 hours for a response. There is always a physician on call to speak with for any off-hour emergencies.

Do you support the use of alternative therapies for IBD?

Yes we do, as long as they are safe for you. We are fortunate to be able to work in conjunction with the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. Together, we are able to make recommendations for alternative therapies and work with any nontraditional therapeutic practitioners with whom you are involved.

Will I be awake for my colonoscopy or upper endoscopy?

We use both IV conscious sedation and monitored anesthesia care (MAC) for procedures. IV conscious sedation means that you are not as completely sedated as you would be for a major surgery. With IV conscious sedation, patients are comfortable, often sleep through the exam and do not recall the procedure. You will be comfortable and if there are any signs of discomfort, we will usually increase your medication to make you comfortable or we will stop the exam. We can also schedule procedures with MAC, which is a deeper sedation and essentially the same level of sedation as surgery, though you are breathing on your own. This is administered by an anesthesia team who will monitor your vital signs and adjust medications appropriately during your exam.

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