Background: Although pulmonary abnormalities have been recognized in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), their prevalence and clinical significance are not known.
Aim: To study the prevalence and clinical significance of pulmonary abnormalities in patients with IBD.
Methods: Ninety-five non-consecutive patients with IBD (12 Crohn's disease, 83 ulcerative colitis; mean age 41.9 [SD 13] years; 47 women) were prospectively studied from January 2007 to March 2010. Pulmonary function tests (PFT) and high-resolution CT (HRCT) chest were performed in them. PFT were compared to those in 270 healthy (control) subjects matched for age, sex and smoking status.
Results: Twenty-seven (28.5%) patients and 11 (4%) control subjects had abnormal PFT (p < 0.0001). Small airway obstruction was seen in 18 patients, restrictive defect in six and mixed defect in three. Twenty-one (22%) patients had abnormal HRCT findings - bronchiectasis and nodules (nine patients each, including one with nodules who later developed active tuberculosis after infliximab therapy), parenchymal bands (8), mediastinal lymphadenopathy (five, including two with tuberculosis on histology and culture), emphysema (5), brochiolitis (2), pleural effusion or thickening (2), pericardial effusion (2), patchy consolidation (1), ground-glass opacities (1) and lung metastasis (1). Three patients had symptoms (one asthma, two cough).
Conclusion: PFT and HRCT chest showed abnormality in about one-quarter of patients with IBD. A majority of patients with these abnormalities were asymptomatic.