Background and aims: Mucosal healing (MH) in inflammatory bowel disease may be an important sign of efficacy of treatment and a prognostic marker of long-term disease. The aim of the study was to examine both the possible predictors of mucosal healing and the impact of healing on subsequent course of disease.
Methods: In 740 incident patients diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn's disease (CD) between 1990 and 1994 (before biologic therapy was available), demographics and symptoms were recorded. Clinical and endoscopic evaluations were done at baseline before treatment and repeated after 1 and 5 years in 495 patients.
Results: In UC patients, education longer than 12 years and extensive disease at diagnosis were significant predictors of MH after 1 year (adjusted P = .004 and P = .02, respectively). MH was significantly associated with a low risk of future colectomy (P = .02). In patients with CD, fever at diagnosis and medical treatment without steroids were significant predictors for MH (adjusted P = .03 and P = .01, respectively). MH was significantly associated with less inflammation after 5 years (P = .02), decreased future steroid treatment (P = .02).
Conclusions: Several factors predicted subsequent MH. Education as predictor may implicate the importance of coping, compliance, or lifestyle. MH after 1 year of treatment is predictive of reduced subsequent disease activity and decreased need for active treatment. The present results give further strength to the use of mucosal healing as a clinical indicator and treatment goal in inflammatory bowel disease.