• postsurgical recurrence;
  • Crohn's disease;
  • bowel sonography;
  • endoscopy


Background: Postsurgical recurrence (PSR) is very common in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and previous surgery. Endoscopy is crucial for the diagnosis of PSR, also showing high prognostic value. Bowel sonography (BS) with or without oral contrast enhancement (OCBS) is accurate for CD diagnosis but its role in PSR detection and grading is poorly investigated. The aim was to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of BS and OCBS for PSR compared to the endoscopical Rutgeerts's grading system.

Methods: We prospectively performed endoscopy, BS, and OCBS in 40 CD patients with previous bowel resection to provide evidence of possible PSR. Endoscopy, BS, and OCBS were executed 1 year after surgery, with PSR diagnosis and grading made in accordance with Rutgeerts. BS and OCBS were considered suggestive for PSR in the presence of bowel wall thickness (BWT) >3 mm. OCBS was performed after ingestion of 750 mL of polyethylene glycol (PEG). Also, a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was constructed in order to define the best cutoff of BWT to discriminate mild from severe PSR (grade 0–2 versus 3–4 of Rutgeerts) for both BS and OCBS.

Results: In all, 22 out of the 40 CD showed an endoscopic evidence of PSR (55%). A severe PSR was present in 14 patients (64%). Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values were 77%, 94%, 93%, and 80% for BS, and 82%, 94%, 93%, and 84% for OCBS. On the ROC curve a BWT >5 mm showed sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of 93%, 96%, 88%, and 97% for the diagnosis of severe PSR at BS, while a BWT >4 mm was the best cutoff differentiating the mild from the severe CD recurrence for OCBS, with a sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of 86%, 96%, 97%, and 79%, respectively.

Conclusions: Both BS and OCBS show good sensitivity and high specificity for the diagnosis of PSR in CD, with a BWT >5 mm for BS and BWT >4 mm for OCBS strongly indicative of severe endoscopic PSR. Accordingly, these techniques could replace endoscopy for the diagnosis and grading of PSR in many cases.

(Inflamm Bowel Dis 2008)