Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020 Aug 20;18(9):2030-2037. Epub 2019 Dec 20.
Gastroenterology Unit, Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy. Electronic address:
Background & Aims: Mucosal healing, determined by ileocolonoscopy, is a goal for treatment of Crohn's disease (CD), but this is an invasive assessment procedure. We investigated whether response to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists, determined by small-intestine contrast ultrasonography, associates with long-term outcomes.
Methods: We performed observational study of 80 patients with CD treated with anti-TNF agents for at least 1 year who underwent serial small intestine contrast ultrasonography (SICUS) at the University of Rome, in Italy. SICUS was used to evaluate disease site (based on bowel wall thickness), extent of lesions, and presence of complications. Inclusion criteria required pre-therapy SICUS with follow-up SICUS after 18 months. At second SICUS, patients were assigned to categories of complete or partial responder or non-responder. CD-related outcomes (corticosteroid need, hospitalization, and surgery) were assessed at 1 year from the second SICUS, using multivariate models, and were analyzed after long term follow up (5 years) using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis.
Results: Based on SICUS, after a median of 18 months, 36 patients (51%) were complete responders, 30 were partial responders (34%), and 13 were non-responders (15%). At 1 year from the second SICUS, no patients with a complete response, based on ultrasonography, underwent surgery, in comparison to partial responders (P = .0003) or non-responders (P = .001). Complete responders used smaller amounts of corticosteroids than partial responders (P = .0001) or non-responders (P < .0001). Complete responders required fewer hospitalizations than non-responders (P = .001). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis of long-term follow up data demonstrated a lower cumulative probability of need for surgery, hospitalization, and need for steroids among SICUS-categorized complete responders (P < .0001, P = .003 and P = .0001 respectively) than SICUS-categorized non-responders.
Conclusions: In patients with CD, response to anti-TNF agents, determined by SICUS, is associated with better long-term outcomes than partial or no response. Ultrasonographic assessment therefore provides a relatively non-invasive method for monitoring response to treatment in patients with CD.