Granulomas are masses of immune cells that develop due to inflammation. They can occur in people with Crohn’s disease. However, not everyone with Crohn’s develops granulomas.

Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the digestive tract. It affects more than half a million people in the United States.

Experts do not know the exact cause of Crohn’s disease. However, the immune system, genetics, and lifestyle factors may play a role.

Granulomas are collections of immune cells that form when there is inflammation in the body. They may occur in people with Crohn’s disease.

This article discusses granulomas in people with Crohn’s disease, exploring their causes, symptoms, and treatment.

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Granulomas are a common symptom of Crohn’s disease and may help doctors differentiate between Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel disorders, such as ulcerative colitis.

However, not everyone with Crohn’s disease develops them.

Learn more about granulomas.

Generally, granulomas develop due to inflammation.

However, experts do not know exactly why granulomas occur in some people with Crohn’s disease. One theory is that it is an autoimmune response to the disease, though this does not explain why they only form in certain individuals with Crohn’s disease.

One older study involving 161 people with Crohn’s disease indicates granulomas are more common in younger people.

There is no evidence to suggest that Crohn’s disease symptoms are different in people with granulomas.

The most common symptoms of the condition include:

  • diarrhea
  • cramping and pain in the abdomen
  • weight loss

Other symptoms may include:

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • tender bumps on the skin
  • anemia

Current research about granulomas in people with Crohn’s disease is lacking.

Older research suggests people with granulomas may have bowel resection surgery and immunosuppressive therapy more often and earlier than those with Crohn’s without granulomas.

A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis found that people with Crohn’s disease and granulomas may experience more severe disease and higher hospitalization rates. The authors suggest granulomas may indicate a more aggressive type of Crohn’s disease.

Another 2017 study of 1,466 people with Crohn’s disease found that the disease was more aggressive in people with granulomas. Additionally, those who had granulomas and underwent surgery were at higher risk for repeat surgery within 6 years.

Doctors typically treat Crohn’s disease with medications or surgery, depending on the severity of the disease.

The treatment is the same regardless of whether a person has granulomas.

Treatment aims to manage inflammation and prevent flare-ups.

Medications for Crohn’s disease include:

Doctors may also recommend biologic therapies, such as alpha therapies and anti-tumor necrosis factors, to neutralize inflammation-causing proteins.

Additionally, doctors may prescribe antibiotics for Crohn’s disease complications, such as infection, and medications to treat symptoms, such as diarrhea.

Because evidence suggests people with granulomas may have a more aggressive form of Crohn’s, they may be more likely to require more intensive treatment such as surgery.

Surgery for this condition may involve:

Granulomas occur in response to inflammation in the body and consist of a collection of immune cells.

While they may occur in people with Crohn’s disease, not everyone with the condition develops them.

Some research suggests that people with granulomas have a more aggressive type of Crohn’s disease. They may be more likely to need surgery than those without granulomas.