In the past, doctors could hardly differentiate Crohn’s disease from ulcerative colitis, leading to many instances of misdiagnosis. Improvements in the field of medicine, however, has now allowed for better means of evaluating the disease. For decades now, imaging scans have been used to assess the extent, severity and contiguity of Crohn’s disease. While a cure for the condition hasn’t been discovered yet, MRI scans give patients some hope to decrease disease activity or determine the need for surgery.
What Crohn’s Disease Does to the Body
Perhaps the most recognized characteristic of Crohn’s disease is the inflammatory lesions that appear in the gastrointestinal tract. In many cases, these lesions are found in the colon or the terminal ileum. Left alone, the lesions can also cause complications such as fistulas, abscesses and stenosis. Studies suggest that two thirds of all patients with Crohn’s disease will develop complications within ten years. Some researchers have also found that Crohn’s disease has a higher rate of mortality, most pronounced in the first few years after diagnosis.
How MRI Is Used in Diagnosis
MRI is commonly performed in patients to evaluate the abdomen and pelvis. Radiologists often use two different techniques of MRI ̶ enterography and enteroclysis ̶ in surveillance of small bowel diseases and extraluminal mesenteric diseases. Compared to other types of imaging scans, MRI is considered less burdensome and more time efficient.
Scans can reveal increased bowel wall thickness, a common sign of inflammatory activity that also correlates with the severity of the disease. Along with bowel wall thickness, doctors can also detect other issues brought about by Crohn’s disease. Images clearly show ulceration, fibrofatty proliferation, skip lesions and stenosis.
With effective imaging, Crohn’s disease activity can be graded and properly classified based on severity. This can help guide both patients and physicians to make the most important therapeutic decisions.
Imaging in Crohn Disease, Medscape.com
Crohn’s Disease Evaluation with MRI, RadiologyAssistant.nl