Confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) allows microscopic imaging within the mucosal layer of the gut during ongoing endoscopy. Different studies have addressed the potential of CLE for in vivo diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and microscopic colitis. However, there are no data on the utility of CLE for in vivo diagnosis of Crohn's disease (CD). The aim was to assess the clinical utility of CLE in patients with CD and to determine whether disease activity can be graded using CLE.
Consecutive patients with and without CD were enrolled. The colonic mucosa was examined by standard white-light endoscopy followed by CLE. The features seen on CLE were compared between CD patients and controls.
In all, 76 patients with CD were screened, of whom 54 patients were included in the present study. Eighteen patients without inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) served as controls. A significantly higher proportion of patients with active CD had increased colonic crypt tortuosity, enlarged crypt lumen, microerosions, augmented vascularization, and increased cellular infiltrates within the lamina propria. In quiescent CD, a significant increase in crypt and goblet cell number was detected compared with controls. Based on our findings, we propose a Crohn's Disease Endomicroscopic Activity Score (CDEAS) for assessing CD activity in vivo.
CLE has the potential to significantly improve diagnosis of CD compared with standard endoscopy. These findings should be evaluated in future prospective trials to assess the value of this newly developed CLE score for prediction of disease course and therapeutic responses. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2012;)