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Computed tomographic enterography adds information to clinical management in small bowel Crohn's disease



Background: CT enterography yields striking findings in the bowel wall in Crohn's disease. These images may help to evaluate whether small bowel narrowing results from active disease requiring anti-inflammatory therapy. However, the clinical relevance of these images is unknown. It is also not known if these radiologic findings correlate with objective biomarkers of inflammation.

Methods: In a blinded and independent evaluation, IBD subspecialty gastroenterologists reviewed clinical data, and CT radiologists reviewed CT enterography scans of 67 consecutive patients with Crohn's disease and suspicion of either small bowel inflammation or stricture. Comparisons were made between (1) clinical and radiologic assessments of inflammation and stricture, (2) clinical assessments before and after computed tomographic enterography (CTE) reports were revealed, and (3) radiologic findings and objective biomarkers of inflammation.

Results: (1) Individual CTE findings correlated poorly (Spearman's rho < 0.30) with clinical assessment; (2) clinicians did not suspect 16% of radiologic strictures, and more than half the cases of clinically suspected strictures did not have them on CTE; (3) CTE data changed clinicians' perceptions of the likelihood of steroid benefit in 41 of 67 cases; (4) specific CTE findings correlated with CRP, and a distinct set of CTE findings correlated with ESR in the subset of patients who had these biomarkers measured.

Conclusions: CTE seems to add unique information to clinical assessment, both in detecting additional strictures and in changing clinicians' perceptions of the likelihood of steroids benefiting patients. The biomarker correlations suggest that CTE is measuring real biologic phenomena that correlate with inflammation, providing information distinct from that in a standard clinical assessment.

(Inflamm Bowel Dis 2006)