Background & aims: Early intensive therapy in Crohn's disease should be considered only in patients with disabling disease. The aim of our study was to identify at diagnosis factors predictive of a subsequent 5-year disabling course.
Methods: Among the 1526 patients seen at our unit with Crohn's disease diagnosed between 1985 and 1998, we excluded patients operated on within the first month of the disease, patients with inadequate data, and patients with severe chronic nondigestive disease. In the 1188 remaining patients, Crohn's disease course within the first 5 years of the disease was categorized as disabling when at least 1 of the criteria of clinical severity, conventionally predefined, was present.
Results: Among the 1123 patients with follow-up data allowing full 5-year course classification, the rate of disabling disease was 85.2%. Independent factors present at diagnosis and significantly associated with subsequent 5-year disabling were the initial requirement for steroid use (OR 3.1 [95% CI: 2.2-4.4]), an age below 40 years (OR 2.1 [95% CI: 1.3-3.6]), and the presence of perianal disease (OR 1.8 [95% CI: 1.2-2.8]). The positive predictive value of disabling disease in patients with 2 and 3 predictive factors of disabling disease was 0.91 and 0.93, respectively. These values were 0.84 and 0.91, respectively, when tested prospectively in an independent group of 302 consecutive patients seen at our institution from 1998.
Conclusions: At diagnosis of Crohn's disease in a referral center, factors predictive of subsequent 5-year disabling course are an age below 40 years, the presence of perianal disease, and the initial requirement for steroids.