How is ulcerative colitis diagnosed?
Ulcerative colitis is suspected when someone has a history of rectal bleeding (without or without abdominal pain and diarrhoea, which are common ulcerative colitis symptoms). To arrive at a definitive diagnosis, medical practitioners need to investigate in order to eliminate other possibilities (e.g., Crohn’s disease, colorectal cancer).
The medical investigation will include:
- complete personal medical history, including full review of all symptoms
- complete family history
- physical examination
- examination of stool samples to rule out infectious diseases or check for blood in the stool
- complete blood count (CBC) or full blood count (FBC), which can provide additional clues to one’s overall health. For example, low levels of red blood cells can suggest internal bleeding and the presence of anaemia. A high white blood cell count, a higher-than-normal level of C-reactive protein (CRP), or a high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) can indicate the presence of inflammation somewhere in the body
- direct inspection of intestinal mucosa via endoscopy, including:
- sigmoidoscopy if examination is limited to the rectum and sigmoid colon
- colonoscopy if the entire colon is viewed.