Background: Cross-sectional imaging techniques, including ultrasonography (US), computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are increasingly used for evaluation of Crohn's disease (CD). Aim To perform an assessment of the diagnostic accuracy of cross-sectional imaging techniques for diagnosis of CD, evaluation of disease extension and activity and diagnosis of complications, and to provide recommendations for their optimal use.
Methods: Relevant publications were identified by literature search and selected based on predefined quality parameters, including a prospective design, sample size and reference standard. A total of 68 publications were chosen.
Results: Ultrasonography is an accurate technique for diagnosis of suspected CD and for evaluation of disease activity (sensitivity 0.84, specificity 0.92), is widely available and non-invasive, but its accuracy is lower for disease proximal to the terminal ileum. MRI has a high diagnostic accuracy for the diagnosis of suspected CD and for evaluation of disease extension and activity (sensitivity 0.93, specificity 0.90), and is less dependent on the examiner and disease location compared with US. CT has a similar accuracy to MRI for assessment of disease extension and activity. The three techniques have a high accuracy for identification of fistulas, abscesses and stenosis (sensitivities and specificities >0.80), although US has false positive results for abscesses. As a result of the lack of radiation, US or MRI should be preferred over CT, particularly in young patients.
Conclusions: Cross-sectional imaging techniques have a high accuracy for evaluation of suspected and established CD, reliably measure disease severity and complications; they may offer the possibility to monitor disease progression.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.