Home > Causes > What is Ulcerative Colitis?

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Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease (see the CKS topic onCrohn’s disease) are collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease.
Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic, relapsing–remitting, non-infectious inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. The mucosa of the rectum and a variable length of the colon is inflamed — in contrast, in Crohn’sdisease the full thickness of the intestinalwall is inflamed and any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus, can be affected.
The extent of Ulcerative Colitis is classified as [Satsangi et al, 2006]:
Ulcerative proctitis: inflammation is limited to the rectum and does not extend proximately to the sigmoid colon.
Left sided colitis: inflammation does not extend proximately beyond the splenic flexure.
Extensive colitis (pancolitis): inflammation extends proximately beyond the splenicflexure.
Ulcerative Colitis has a number of extra-intestinal manifestations, including arthritis, iritis, erythema nodosum, and pyoderma gangrenosum.
Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease seem to be different conditions, although the underlying pathophysiological processes are not well enough understood to confirm this. Sometimes it is not possible to determine if the person has Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease; they are said to have Iindeterminate Colitis.