A prospective study of the oral manifestations of Crohn's disease

Sinead Harty, Padraig Fleming, Marion Rowland, Ellen Crushell, Michael McDermott, Brendan Drumm, Billy Bourke
Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2005, 3 (9): 886-91

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Recent studies suggest that the mouth may be involved frequently in patients with Crohn's disease (CD). The aim of this study was to document prospectively the proportion of children with oral lesions at diagnosis of CD, to describe the type of lesions found, and to examine the ability of gastroenterologists to identify correctly oral Crohn's manifestations.

METHODS: In a prospective 3-year study, systematic dental examinations were performed on all children with suspected inflammatory bowel disease. Each child underwent upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, and barium follow-through radiography.

RESULTS: Forty-eight of 49 children with CD were examined by the dentist. Oral CD was found in 20 patients (41.7%). Oral findings included mucogingivitis (12 patients), mucosal tags (4 patients), deep ulceration (4 patients), cobblestoning (3 patients), lip swelling (3 patients), and pyostomatitis vegetans (1 patient). Noncaseating granulomas were found in all 8 oral biopsy specimens from oral CD lesions (100%). Two patients with granulomas in oral biopsy specimens had no granulomas found in any other biopsy specimens. The presence of oral manifestations was associated with perianal disease. In only 9 patients (45%) with oral CD was the mouth found to be abnormal by the consultant gastroenterologists. Only nonspecific oral changes were seen in children with ulcerative colitis and indeterminate colitis.

CONCLUSIONS: More than one third of all children presenting with CD had involvement of the mouth. The ability of physicians to recognize oral lesions was poor. Expert dental evaluation may be useful during the investigation of patients with suspected inflammatory bowel disease.

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