Diagnostic imaging in Crohn's disease: comparison of magnetic resonance imaging and conventional imaging methods

Int J Colorectal Dis. 2000 Jun;15(3):176-81. doi: 10.1007/s003840000219.


Conventional enteroclysis remains the method of choice in the diagnosis of inflammatory small bowel disease. The reported sensitivity rates, however, for the diagnosis of extraintestinal processes, such as fistulae and abscesses, are moderate. Computed tomography (CT) is the method of choice for the diagnosis of extraintestinal complications. The anatomical designation of the affected bowel segment may, however, prove difficult due to axial slices, and the applied radiation dose is high. The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the diagnosis of inflammatory small bowel disease is a relatively new indication for the method; prerequisites were the development of breathhold sequences and phased array coils. Optimized magnetic resonance tomographic imaging requires a combined method of enteroclysis and MRI, which guarantees an optimal filling and distension of the small bowel. The high filling volume leads to a secondary paralysis of the small bowel and avoids motion artifacts. In a trial of 84 patients with histological and endoscopic correlation the sensitivity in diagnosing inflammatory bowel disease was 85.4% for enteroclysis and 95.2% for MRI, and the specificity was 76.9% for enteroclysis and 92.6% for MRI. As none of the abscesses was diagnosed with enteroclysis, the sensitivity was 0% for enteroclysis, but 77.8% for MRI. The sensitivity in diagnosing fistulae was 17.7% for enteroclysis and 70.6% for MRI. In summary, MRI can detect the most relevant findings in patients with inflammatory small bowel disease with an accuracy superior to that of enteroclysis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography


  • Contrast Media