Background: Although thiopurines have a proven role in maintenance therapy for Crohn's disease, an alternative therapy is needed for patients intolerant or resistant to thiopurines.
Aim: To evaluate the effectiveness of home enteral nutrition as a maintenance therapy regimen in which half of the daily calorie requirement is provided by an elemental diet and the remaining half by a free diet. We refer to this home enteral nutrition therapy as 'half elemental diet'.
Methods: Between 2002 and 2005, 51 patients in remission from two hospitals were randomly assigned to a half elemental diet group (n = 26) or a free diet group (n = 25). The primary outcome measure of this study was the occurrence of relapse over the 2-year period.
Results: The relapse rate in the half elemental diet group was significantly lower [34.6% vs. 64.0%; multivariate hazard ratio 0.40 (95% CI: 0.16-0.98)] than that in the free diet group after a mean follow-up of 11.9 months. Compliance was similar in the two groups. No adverse event occurred in any of the patients throughout the study.
Conclusion: This randomized-controlled trial shows the effectiveness of an half elemental diet, which is a promising maintenance therapy for Crohn's disease patients.