VALIDATION STUDIES
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MR enterography-histology comparison in resected pediatric small bowel Crohn disease strictures: can imaging predict fibrosis?

BACKGROUND: Crohn disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can lead to intestinal strictures. The presence of fibrosis within strictures alters optimal management but is not reliably detected by current imaging methods.

OBJECTIVE: To correlate the MRI features of surgically resected small-bowel strictures in pediatric Crohn disease with histological inflammation and fibrosis scoring.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We included children with Crohn disease who had symptomatic small-bowel strictures requiring surgical resection and had preoperative MR enterography (MRE) within 3 months of surgery (n = 20). Two blinded radiologists reviewed MRE examinations to document stricture-related findings. A pediatric pathologist scored stricture histological specimens for fibrosis (0-4) and inflammation (0-4). MRE findings were correlated with histological data using Spearman correlation (ρ) and exact logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: There was significant positive correlation between histological bowel wall fibrosis and inflammation in resected strictures (ρ = 0.55; P = 0.01). Confluent transmural histological fibrosis was associated with pre-stricture upstream small-bowel dilatation >3 cm at univariate (odds ratio [OR] = 51.7; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 7.6- > 999.9; P = 0.0002) and multivariate (OR = 43.4; 95% CI: 6.1- > 999.9; P = 0.0006, adjusted for age) analysis. The degree of bowel wall T2-weighted signal intensity failed to correlate with histological bowel wall fibrosis or inflammation (P-values >0.05). There were significant negative correlations between histological fibrosis score and patient age at resection (ρ = -0.48, P = 0.03), and time from diagnosis to surgery (ρ = -0.73, P = 0.0002).

CONCLUSION: Histological fibrosis and inflammation co-exist in symptomatic pediatric Crohn disease small-bowel strictures and are positively correlated. Pre-stenotic upstream small-bowel dilatation greater than 3 cm is significantly associated with confluent transmural fibrosis.

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