Identifying Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at High vs Low Risk of Complications

Siegel CA1, Bernstein CN2. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Nov 25. pii: S1542-3565(19)31322-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2019.11.034. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH. Electronic address: corey.a.siegel@hitchcock.org.

Section of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


People with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis have varying presentations and clinical consequences of their disease. Patients commonly ask about their prognosis, and what this diagnosis means for them. They are asking their clinicians to predict the future. The importance of predicting the course of any disease is to guide patient expectations and to guide treatment decisions. In the past decade the strategy of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment has shifted to treat patients earlier in the course of their disease, before irreversible damage occurs. Treatment approaches for disease categorized as mild, moderate or severe has most often been based on a current assessment of symptoms or disease activity without including a longitudinal assessment of a patient's disease course including past disease complications and surgeries. While a patient's current disease activity most typically drives these treatment decisions, optimally, treatment decisions would be made accounting for past disease activity and complications and the predicted future diseasecourse. When developing a treatment plan for an individual patient, the immediate goal is to treat the current disease activity for relief of symptoms, and the long-term goal is to prevent progression of their disease due to complications. Since not all patients will progress to a complicated disease course, it is important to be able to select the right patients for the right therapy. Therefore, developing methods of stratifying patients into low-risk versus high-risk of complications will be an important aspect of treating IBD now and in the future.

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