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Early Intestinal Ultrasound Predicts Clinical and Endoscopic Treatment Response and Demonstrates Drug-Specific Kinetics in Moderate-to-Severe Ulcerative Colitis.

BACKGROUND: Intestinal ultrasound (IUS) is an emerging modality in monitoring disease activity in ulcerative colitis (UC). Here, we aimed to identify early IUS predictors of treatment response as evaluated by endoscopy and assessed the kinetics of IUS changes.

METHODS: This prospective, longitudinal study included UC patients with endoscopic disease activity (endoscopic Mayo score [EMS] ≥2) starting anti-inflammatory treatment. Clinical scores, biochemical parameters and IUS were assessed at baseline (W0), at week 2 (W2), at W6(W6), and at the time of second endoscopy (W8-W26). Per colonic segment, endoscopic remission (EMS = 0), improvement (EMS ≤1), response (decrease in EMS ≥1), and clinical remission (Lichtiger score ≤3) were assessed and correlated with common IUS parameters. Additionally, drug-specific responsiveness of bowel wall thickness (BWT) was assessed.

RESULTS: A total of 51 patients were included and followed, and 33 patients underwent second endoscopy. BWT was lower from W6 onward for patients reaching endoscopic improvement (3.0 ± 1.2 mm vs 4.1 ± 1.3 mm; P = .026), remission (2.5 ± 1.2 mm vs 4.1 ± 1.1 mm; P = .002), and clinical remission (3.01 ± 1.34 mm vs 3.85 ± 1.20 mm; P = .035). Decrease in BWT was more pronounced in endoscopic responders (-40 ± 25% vs -4 ± 28%; P = .001) at W8 to W26. At W6, BWT ≤3.0 mm (odds ratio [OR], 25.13; 95% confidence interval, 2.01-3.14; P = .012) and color Doppler signal (OR, 0.35; 95% confidence interval, 0.14-0.88; P = .026) predicted endoscopic remission and improvement, respectively. Submucosal layer thickness at W6 predicted endoscopic remission (OR, 0.09; P = .018) and improvement (OR, 0.14; P = .02). Furthermore, BWT decreased significantly at W2 for infliximab and tofacitinib and at W6 for vedolizumab.

CONCLUSIONS: BWT and color Doppler signal predicted endoscopic targets already after 6 weeks of treatment and response was drug specific. IUS allows close monitoring of treatment in UC and is a surrogate marker of endoscopy.

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