Background and aims: The clinical course of Crohn's disease (CD) is highly variable with a subgroup of patients developing a progressive disease course necessitating immunosuppressive therapy (IT). However, reliable, stable and non-invasive individual clinical parameters in order to identify patients at risk for undergoing subsequent IT have not been sufficiently established. We therefore aimed to identify such clinical parameters.
Methods: A retrospective, multicenter analysis of CD patients from 6 German tertiary IBD centers was performed. Patients were classified into two groups depending on requiring IT or not. Personal data, clinical and laboratory parameters during the first 3 months after CD diagnosis and effects of initial medical therapy were compared between these two groups.
Results: In 218 (61.8%) of the 353 patients the CD course necessitated IT. Those patients were significantly younger at symptom onset and diagnosis, and required significantly more often a systemic corticosteroid therapy. Furthermore, significant differences in serological markers of inflammation were observed. Age, gender and the effect of initial steroid therapy were used to develop a prognostic model predicting the individual probability of necessitating IT.
Conclusions: The simple clinical items age at diagnosis, gender, and need for systemic steroid therapy can predict a progressive disease course in early CD. Our model based on these parameters allows an individualized estimation of each patient's risk to develop a progressive disease course. Thereby, our model can help in deciding if patients will need immunosuppressive drugs early in the disease course or if a careful watch and wait strategy is justified.
Copyright © 2011 European Crohn's and Colitis Organisation. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.