Crohn's disease is an inflammation of the intestines caused by immune response that inappropriately targets the patients' own body. The lining of the intestine may ulcerate and form channels of inflammation, called fistulas. Fistulas tunnel from the area of ulceration, creating a channel which may continue until it reaches the surface of the organ, or the surface of nearby skin. These holes typically spread the infection that creates them, and life-threatening conditions such as peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdomen) may occur.
Review Date: 1/25/2013
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Senior Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital.