Background: Endoscopic dilatation for Crohn's disease has been evaluated only in some small and heterogeneous studies.
Aim: To evaluate any association between the main clinical variables and endoscopic variables and the efficacy and safety of endoscopic dilatation in Crohn's disease.
Methods: A Medline search regarding pneumatic dilatation in Crohn's disease was performed. Several technical and clinical variables were extracted from each study to build up a descriptive, pool-data analysis. Data on individual patients were extracted from suitable studies to create a simulated population upon which a multivariate statistical analysis was performed.
Results: Thirteen studies enrolling 347 Crohn's disease patients were reviewed. Endoscopic dilatation was mainly applied to postsurgical strictures, being technically successful in 86% of the cases. Long-term clinical efficacy was achieved in 58% of the patients. Mean follow-up was as long as 33 months, corresponding to 800 patient years of follow-up. Major complication rate was 2%, being higher than 10% in two series. At multivariate analysis, a stricture length < or = 4 cm was associated with a surgery-free outcome (OR: 4.01; 95% CI: 1.16-13.8; P < 0.028).
Conclusions: Endoscopic dilatation is an effective and safe treatment for short strictures caused by Crohn's disease, impacting substantially on the natural history of these patients.