Objectives: The distinction between the two major forms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), i.e., ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease is sometimes difficult and may lead to a diagnosis of indeterminate colitis. We have used 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) combined with multivariate methods of spectral data analysis to differentiate UC from Crohn's disease and to evaluate normal-appearing mucosa in IBD.
Methods: Colon mucosal biopsies (45 UC and 31 Crohn's disease) were submitted to 1H MRS, and multivariate analysis was applied to distinguish the two diseases. A second study was performed to test endoscopically and histologically normal biopsies from IBD patients. A classifier was developed by training on 101 spectra (76 inflamed IBD tissues and 25 normal control tissues). The spectra of 38 biopsies obtained from endoscopically and histologically normal areas of the colons of patients with IBD were put into the validation test set.
Results: The classification accuracy between UC and Crohn's disease was 98.6%, with only one case of Crohn's disease and no cases of UC misclassified. The diagnostic spectral regions identified by our algorithm included those for taurine, lysine, and lipid. In the second study, the classification accuracy between normal controls and IBD was 97.9%. Only 47.4% of the endoscopically and histologically normal IBD tissue spectra were classified as true normals; 34.2% showed "abnormal" magnetic resonance spectral profiles, and the remaining 18.4% could not be classified unambiguously.
Conclusions: There is a strong potential for MRS to be used in the accurate diagnosis of indeterminate colitis; it may also be sensitive in detecting preclinical inflammatory changes in the colon.