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Is histological healing more clinically valuable than endoscopic healing in Crohn's disease?

OBJECTIVES: Small bowel (SB) endoscopic healing has not been well explored in patients with Crohn's disease (CD). This study aimed to assess the clinical utility of SB endoscopic mucosal and histological healing in patients with CD.

METHODS: In total, 99 patients with CD in clinical-serological remission were retrospectively followed after they underwent colonoscopy and double-balloon enteroscopy. Time until clinical relapse (CD activity index of >150 with an increase of >70 points) and serological relapse (abnormal elevation of C-reactive protein levels) constituted the primary endpoints.

RESULTS: Of the 99 patients, 75 (74.7%) exhibited colonoscopic healing and 43 (43.4%) exhibited SB endoscopic healing. Clinical relapse, serological relapse, hospitalization, and surgery occurred in 8 (18.6%), 11 (25.6%), 11 (25.6%), and 2 (4.6%) patients, respectively. Of the 43 patients who exhibited SB endoscopic healing, 21 (48.8%) achieved histological healing. Clinical relapse, serological relapse, hospitalization, and surgery occurred in 4 (19.0%), 7 (33.3%), 7 (33.3%), and 1 (4.8%) patient, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference in the number of patients who relapsed, were hospitalized, or underwent surgery between those who exhibited histological healing and those who did not.

CONCLUSION: A substantial number of patients who were in clinical-serological remission did not undergo SB endoscopic healing, and the lesions increased their risk of clinical relapse. Thus, endoscopic healing may be of greater clinical value than histological healing when evaluating the remission of patients with CD.

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