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Infusion Therapy For Crohn’s: How It Works & What To Expect

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Discover the infusion treatments available for Crohn’s disease, along with what to expect (duration, frequency, efficacy, side effects, and more). 

What is Crohn’s Disease? 

Crohn’s disease, also known as regional enteritis or ileitis, is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It inflames and irritates the digestive tract (the small and large intestines). IBD leads to an overactive immune system with excess TNF-alpha which, in turn, causes the immune system to attack healthy cells in the gastrointestinal tract.

Crohn's disease can cause flare-ups of abdominal pain, severe diarrhea , fatigue, and weight loss.

What is infusion therapy?

Infusion therapy is a treatment option where medications or fluids are passed via a needle or catheter directly into the body. This delivery method is often used:

  • When a patient cannot take oral medications
  • When the medication needs to be administered at a regulated rate
  • When stomach acids might potentially harm the medication
  • When a physician or provider determines an IV medication will manage the patient’s disease more effectively

Infusion therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions ranging from infections to cancer. 

What infusions are given for Crohn’s disease

The most common infusions for Crohn’s disease are in the form of biologics. They are lab-designed antibodies that target the body’s inflammatory response.

There are various biologic therapies approved for the treatment of Crohn’s disease.  

Renflexis/Avsola/Remicade (Infliximab)

Infliximab is a generic name for several drugs approved for moderate to severe symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It is an anti-TNF (tumor necrosis factor) drug, which targets the proteins in the intestines that induce inflammation. It is approved for adults and children as young as six years old.

After the first infliximab infusion, patients will receive a second infusion two weeks later and a third infusion six weeks after that. After these three infusions, there are maintenance infusions typically every eight weeks.

Entyvio (vedolizumab)

Entyvio is an integrin receptor antagonist. It is usually recommended for patients who have used anti-TNF for Crohn's disease without any results.

Note that it's approved for adults only. After the first infusion, patients will receive another one two weeks later and another six weeks after that. From there, maintenance treatments are administered every eight weeks. 

Stelara (ustekinumab)

Stelara works a little differently than the other biologics on the list; it targets the two specific proteins which trigger inflammation in Crohn’s patients and is a one-time infusion. After this infusion, patients will receive maintenance injections every eight weeks.

Tysabri (natalizumab)

Natalizumab is an alpha-4 integrin inhibitor. It is an anti-inflammatory drug administered every four weeks.

Skyrizi (Risankizumab)

Skyrizi is used to treat plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. For Crohn’s it’s administered as six doses a year (after three starter doses). 

How often do Crohn’s patients get infusions?

How often a patient receives an infusion varies according to the medication. As there may be allergic reactions, it’s important that biologic infusions are given by a healthcare professional at a hospital or infusion center. Allergic reactions may include difficulty breathing, chest pain, and high or low blood pressure.

Also, before beginning infusion therapy, inform your healthcare provider about any drug or supplements you’re currently taking. You should also inform him/her if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

How long is Crohn’s infusion? 

It depends on your medication. An infusion could take 30 minutes to a few hours.

For example, infliximab infusion is given over a period of two hours while vedolizumab is given over a period of 30 minutes.

Efficacy of infusion therapy for Crohn’s disease 

Corticosteroids are the main treatment for Crohn's disease, but many patients are resistant to it, and those who aren't are prone to developing steroid dependency. Infusion therapy is an effective alternative.  

The ACCENT I trial evaluated the effectiveness of infliximab, an infusion therapy for Crohn's disease. The study found that it was significantly effective in inducing and maintaining remission in patients with moderate to severe active Crohn's disease.

Your healthcare provider may recommend infusion therapy with other therapies (e.g., immunomodulators and immunosuppressants) to increase its effectiveness. 

Side effects of infusion therapy for Crohn’s disease 

Most common side effects of infusion therapy for Crohn's disease include:

  • Hives
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Redness
  • Sinus infection
  • Joint pain

Serious side effects may include serious infections like tuberculosis, skin cancer, lymphoma, heart failure, and hepatitis B.

Considering Crohn’s treatment at Local Infusion?

Local Infusion offers modern, state-of-the-art centers with private suites, designed with your comfort in mind.

From questions on what to expect in your first treatment to providing financial guidance and support, a dedicated Infusion Guide works with you and your physician to provide clear answers and assistance every step of the way.

We’ll reach out within hours of a physician referral and get you digitally on board in less than two minutes, allowing our staff more time to focus on you.

Should you have questions regarding pricing and insurance, our team will work with you  to provide financial assistance support and minimize costs, providing a simple and stress-free experience.

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