Definition and evaluation of mucosal healing in clinical practice

Silvia Mazzuoli, Francesco W Guglielmi, Elisabetta Antonelli, Marianna Salemme, Gabrio Bassotti, Vincenzo Villanacci
Digestive and Liver Disease 2013, 45 (12): 969-77
Since the introduction of biological therapy, endoscopic and histological remission, i.e. mucosal healing, has become an important therapeutic goal in Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Mucosal healing is associated with lower rates of hospitalization and surgery, although its role in preventing progression and changing the natural history of the disease has not been clearly demonstrated. A precise definition of mucosal healing has not yet been established, although the concept used in clinical trials is the "complete absence of all inflammatory and ulcerative lesions in all segments of gut" at endoscopy. This definition does not include mucosal improvement and does not distinguish among grades of mucosal healing. In both Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis trials, several qualitative and quantitative numeric endoscopic indices have been proposed to measure and distinguish endoscopic changes. In addition, the microscopic features associated with inflammatory bowel diseases are considerably modified by the course of the disease and the treatments adopted. However, it is not yet clear whether microscopic healing should be a primary endpoint in clinical trials. In this paper we discuss endoscopic and histological findings and the limitations of the endoscopic and histological indices as a basis for a standardised diagnosis of mucosal healing.

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