Complications and extra-intestinal manifestations

Sometimes there can be some uncommon complications that may arise in the bowel or elsewhere in the body of people with IBD. They usually only occur in severe disease and in a minority of people. For example:


  • Toxic megacolon – a rare complication where there is severe ulceration of the lining of the bowel causing the large bowel to rapidly distend
  • Perforation – a rare complication as a result of toxic megacolon or severe colitis requiring urgent surgery
  • Haemorrhage
  • Bowel structure – narrowing due to inflammation or scarring that can cause bowel blockage
  • Abscess – collection of pus or abscesses form when the inflammation extends through the bowel wall, forming a cavity
  • Fistula – an abnormal connection that develops between the bowel and the skin or other hollow organs in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Cancer – there is a higher than average risk of cancer of the bowel, particularly for ulcerative colitis

Extra-intestinal manifestations

  • Skin disorders – ulcers, painful red patches
  • Back pain
  • Arthritis of the large joints
  • Eye diseases – conjunctivitis or iritis
  • Narrowing of the bile ducts
  • Liver disease
  • Gall stones and kidney stones
  • Osteoporosis