Translate this website into the following languages:

Close Tab
UC San Diego Health
menu iconMenu
search iconSearch

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment

Medical Management of IBD

Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), often begin in adolescence or early adulthood and have a chronic, episodic course, requiring long-term care.

The goal of treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases is to achieve remission so that symptoms disappear and to maintain remission so flare ups don’t occur, improving quality of life. Remission leads to healing of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

The Risks of Not Treating IBD

Active disease symptoms of IBD are challenging to live with. One risk of not treating IBD is a higher frequency of flare ups (of inflammation and symptoms) and progression of the inflammation to irreversible bowel damage. Left untreated, complications of IBD can include:

Leading-Edge Care For Ulcerative Colitis

  • Arthritis
  • Skin conditions
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Liver disorders
  • Kidney disorders
  • Bone loss
  • Increased risk of intestinal cancer
  • Intestinal strictures causing bowel obstruction
  • Intestinal perforation causing fistulas and abscesses

Go to the Experts

While there’s no permanent cure for IBD, you can expect the IBD Center to carefully evaluate and determine the best course of treatment for your IBD. Treatment options, including medications and surgery, will depend on the symptoms, prognosis and severity of the disease.

bullet Read about surgery for IBD.

Treating IBD with Medications

Several types of drugs are available to treat IBD. First and foremost, treatment must reduce to get the inflammation so symptoms are relieved and nutrients can be absorbed by the intestines. Secondly, treatment is aimed to maintain remission and control the chronic inflammation so that the disease is manageable and complications are prevented.

Medications include:

Investigational Medications for IBD

Antibody May Help Crohn's Disease

Ustekinumab, an antibody proven to treat the skin condition psoriasis, has now shown positive results in decreasing the debilitating effects of Crohn's disease, according to researchers at UC San Diego.

UC San Diego Health is evaluating a variety of investigational medications for inflammatory bowel disease. Investigational medications for inflammatory bowel diseases are medications that the FDA has not yet approved for the treatment of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Investigational medications may already be approved by the FDA for treatment of another disease, but are under investigational use for ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Alternatively, investigational medications may have not been approved yet for any disease, but are being studied as potential treatments for ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Investigational medications are studied in clinical trials and the information collected in the clinical trials is then evaluated by the FDA to determine whether the medication should be approved for the treatment of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. 

UC San Diego is a leader in studying new treatments for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

bullet Surgery for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

UC San Diego Health is a high-volume center for complex surgeries for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. We incorporate the use of single-incision techniques, robot-assisted and transanal approaches when appropriate to provide the best possible outcomes in the treatment of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and their complications. Read more about UC San Diego Health's expertise in surgery for IBD.

Alternative Treatment for Ulcerative Colitis

Steroids are no longer the only treatment option for ulcerative colitis. William Sandborn, MD, discusses a therapeutic drug that has shown great success in improving and healing the bowel. Read full article.


Our bimonthly newsletter delivers healthy lifestyle tips, patient stories and research discovery news. Subscribe: