Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis of Medical Therapies to Prevent Recurrence of Post-Operative Crohn's Disease

J Crohns Colitis. 2019 May 27;13(6):693-701. doi: 10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjy216.


Background and aims: Surgery is an important treatment for Crohn's disease [CD], but recurrence occurs in up to 80% of individuals post-operatively. The efficacy of several drugs to prevent post-operative recurrence has been studied in previous meta-analyses, but a number of randomized controlled trials [RCTs] have recently been published. We therefore performed an updated systematic review and network meta-analysis to investigate this issue.

Methods: We performed a comprehensive literature search through to July 2018 to identify RCTs investigating the endoscopic and clinical recurrence of CD at 12 months post-operatively. We performed a random-effects network meta-analysis to produce a pooled relative risk [RR] with 95% confidence intervals [CIs]. We ranked the treatments according to their P-score.

Results: We included 10 RCTs, containing 751 patients, in our primary analysis of endoscopic recurrence of CD at 12 months. Anti-tumour necrosis factor [TNF]-α therapies were significantly better than placebo, either alone [P-score 0.98, RR 0.13; 95% CI 0.04-0.39] or in combination with 5-aminosalicylates [5-ASAs] [P-score 0.81, RR 0.30; 95% CI 0.12-0.75], or 5-nitroimidazoles [P-score 0.75, RR 0.40; 95% CI 0.23-0.69]. Combination therapy with a thiopurine and 5-nitroimidazole was also more effective than placebo [P-score 0.59, RR 0.56; 95% CI 0.40-0.80], as was thiopurine monotherapy [P-score 0.31, RR 0.84; 95% CI 0.74-0.94]. However, neither 5-nitroimidazoles nor 5-ASAs alone were superior to placebo.

Conclusions: In network meta-analysis, anti-TNF-α therapies alone, or in combination, appear to be the best medications for preventing endoscopic post-operative recurrence of CD.

Keywords: Anti-TNF-α; Crohn’s disease; prophylaxis; recurrence.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Crohn Disease / prevention & control*
  • Crohn Disease / surgery
  • Humans
  • Mesalamine / therapeutic use
  • Nitroimidazoles / therapeutic use
  • Secondary Prevention / methods*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Nitroimidazoles
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Mesalamine
  • 4-nitroimidazole