Small bowel imaging in Crohn’s disease patients

Authors James Gauci, Lara Sammut, Martina Sciberras, Naomi Piscopo, Kristian Micallef, Kelvin Cortis, P Ellul.


Crohn’s disease (CD) is a lifelong, chronic inflammatory bowel disorder. The small bowel (SB) is involved to varying extents, and the clinical course may vary from an inflammatory type to a more complicated one with stricture, fistula, and abscess formation. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy and ileocolonoscopy with biopsies are the conventional endoscopic techniques that usually establish the diagnosis. On the other hand, CD may affect SB segments that cannot be reached through these procedures. Video capsule endoscopy and enteroscopy are additional endoscopic techniques that may allow further SB evaluation in such circumstances. Computed tomographic enterography, magnetic resonance enterography, and ultrasonography are radiologic techniques that serve as a crucial adjunct to endoscopic assessment. They enable the assessment of parts of the bowel that may be difficult to reach with conventional endoscopy; this allows for the detection of active inflammation, penetrating or stricturing disease, and the appreciation of extraintestinal complications. Both endoscopic and radiologic modalities play a role in establishing the diagnosis of CD, as well as determining the disease extent, activity and response to therapy. This review is intended to evaluate these modalities in terms of specificity, sensitivity, potential side-effects, and limiting factors. This should serve as a guide to the clinician for establishing the most appropriate and reliable test within a particular clinical context.

Keywords Crohn’s disease, cross-sectional imaging, small bowel, endoscopy

Ann Gastroenterol 2018; 31 (4): 395-405

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