A Fixed Stricture on Routine Cross-sectional Imaging Predicts Disease-Related Complications and Adverse Outcomes in Patients with Crohn's Disease

Naueen A Chaudhry, Michael Riverso, Joseph R Grajo, Patricia P Moser, Fei Zou, Maher Homsi, Darashana R Punglia, Ellen M Zimmermann
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 2017, 23 (4): 641-649

BACKGROUND: Patients with Crohn's disease (CD) typically undergo multiple cross-sectional imaging exams including computed tomography and magnetic resonance enterography during the course of their disease. The aim was to identify imaging findings that predict future disease-related poor outcomes.

METHODS: This was a retrospective, case control study at a single tertiary center. Cases were CD patients diagnosed with complications (bowel obstruction, perforation, internal fistula, or abscess); controls were CD patients without complications. Two radiologists blinded to clinical outcomes, independently scored cross-sectional imaging examinations obtained before the complication.

RESULTS: One hundred eight patients (67 F; 41 M) with CD (51 cases; 57 controls) were included. For the cases, 21 had internal fistulae, 15 had bowel obstructions, 13 had abdominal abscesses, and 2 developed bowel perforations. Patients with complications were more likely to have a fixed small bowel stricture on cross-sectional imaging (P = 0.01). A patient with a stricture and upstream dilatation was 3.4 times more likely to develop a complication in the next 2 years. When present in the setting of hypervascularity and/or evidence of active inflammation, the risk increased further to 15-fold. Cases were more likely to be active smokers (29% versus 12%, P = 0.033). Cases had more evidence of inflammation based on higher Harvey Bradshaw Index values and inflammatory biomarkers and lower hemoglobin values.

CONCLUSIONS: Information from radiologic studies, especially the presence of fixed strictures, can predict future CD complications. These findings, along with smoking and ongoing inflammation, should alert the clinician to the possibility of future complications.

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