Assessment of the extension and the inflammatory activity in Crohn's disease: comparison of ultrasound and MRI

Abdom Imaging. 2009 Mar-Apr;34(2):141-8. doi: 10.1007/s00261-008-9365-y.


Objective: The purpose of this prospective study was twofold: to examine the efficacy of MRI and sonography in the assessment of Crohn's disease (CD) activity in comparison with clinical scoring and biologic tests and to compare both techniques in the evaluation of extension and transmural complications.

Material and methods: Thirty patients with histologically proven Crohn's disease were prospectively examined the same day first with sonography and after MRI. Sonographic exam included evaluation of bowel wall thickness, vascularity pattern, and perienteric changes. Thirty minutes prior to MRI imaging, patients were given 250 mL of dilute sodium phosphate solution and additional 750 mL of water orally. MRI images evaluation included bowel wall thickening, bowel wall enhancement, and perienteric changes. The gastrointestinal tract was divided into five segments. Findings and extension of the both techniques were verified by means of barium studies, surgery, or/and colonoscopy. The sonographic and MR findings were compared with clinical and laboratory data.

Results: About 53 of 119 (45%) bowel segments showed pathological changes in gold standard tests. Sonography was superior to MRI in the localization of affected bowel segments (sensitivity: US 91%; MRI 83%; intertechniques agreement, kappa: 0.905) and in recognizing transmural complications (sensitivity: US 80%; MRI 72%), although significant differences were not found (p > 0.05). A statistically significant correlation between color Doppler flow and MR bowel wall enhancement (segment-by-segment analysis and per patient analysis; p > 0.5), and between perienteric changes in both techniques (p > 0.5) were found. Wall thickness measured on sonography was significantly greater in the group of patients with clinical activity (p = 0.023) or with clinical-biologic activity (p = 0.024). Grades of hyperemia and MR contrast enhancement of patients with clinical-biologic activity was higher than in patients without clinical-biologic activity (p = 0.019; p = 0.023).

Conclusion: In summary, both ultrasound and MRI are sensitive to localize the affected bowel segments and to detect transmural complications in patients with Crohn's disease. A significant correlation between color Doppler flow and bowel wall enhancement on MRI was found. Sonographic wall thickness, color Doppler flow, and bowel wall enhancement on MRI are related with clinical or biologic activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Crohn Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Crohn Disease / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color
  • Young Adult


  • C-Reactive Protein