Histological healing in inflammatory bowel disease: a still unfulfilled promise

Vincenzo Villanacci, Elisabetta Antonelli, Karel Geboes, Giovanni Casella, Gabrio Bassotti
World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 2013 February 21, 19 (7): 968-78
Treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is traditionally based on several drugs, including salicylates, corticosteroids, and antibiotics; in addition, the therapeutic armamentarium has considerably evolved with the advent of newer, effective therapeutic measures (such as the biological agents) that are able to improve in a considerable manner both the clinical and endoscopic variables. Thus, mucosal healing, at least considered from an endoscopic point of view, is today regarded as the ultimate endpoint for treatment of these conditions. However, it is also increasingly clear that endoscopic healing is not necessarily paralleled by histological healing; There are few doubts that the latter should be considered as a true, objective healing and the ultimate goal to reach when treating patients with IBD. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, only a few, incomplete, and somewhat conflicting data exist on this topic, especially because there is still the need to standardize both histological assessment and the severity grading of these disorders; Issues that have not been yet been resolved for clinical practice and therapeutic trials. Hopefully, with the help of an increased awareness on the clinical researchers' side, and the availability of dedicated pathologists on the other side, this matter will be effectively faced and resolved in the near future.

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