Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract; the exact cause is still unknown. The disease was first described by Crohn, Ginzberg, and Oppenheimer in 1932. In their initial description, the disease was thought to involve only the distal ileum. We now know that Crohn's disease can involve any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus. Segmental involvement of the intestinal tract by a nonspecific granulomatous inflammatory process characterizes the disease. The ileum is involved in the majority of cases. In 20 percent, the disease is confined to the colon, making differentiation from ulcerative colitis, at times, a difficult clinical problem. The terms regional enteritis, terminal ileitis, granulomatous ileocolitis, and Crohn's disease are used to describe the same disease process.
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