Background: Magnetic resonance follow-through (MRFT) is a new cross-sectional imaging modality with the potential to accurately stage ileal Crohn's disease (CD), while avoiding ionizing radiation and the discomfort associated with enteroclysis. We aimed to assess the reliability of this technique in assessing the extent and activity of ileal CD, and to assess its influence on subsequent management.
Methods:. Out of a total of 342 patients undergoing MRFT between 2004 and 2008, 221 were performed in 191 patients with confirmed CD. Case notes were reviewed in detail with documentation of all investigations pre- and post-MRFT. Agreement between inflammatory markers, histopathology, and MRFT findings was determined.
Results: Overall, 116/221 (52.5%) of MRFTs showed active ileal CD, and 76/221 (34.4%) quiescent CD, while 29/221 (13.1%) were suboptimal. Overall, 66 strictures and 18 fistulae were identified. There was substantial agreement between active ileal CD on MRFT and histopathology (n = 59; K = 0.66; P = 0.0006; sensitivity 85.1%, specificity 85.7%) and fecal calprotectin (n = 14; kappa = 0.72; P = 0.047), while C-reactive protein (CRP) showed moderate agreement (n = 107; kappa = 0.402; P = 0.00028). Management was influenced by MRFT reports following active (52/84, 62% treated medically) or quiescent (48/62, 77.4% managed conservatively) disease. Fibrotic strictures were predominantly treated surgically (7/14, 50%). In all, 13/32 (40.6%) patients with inflammatory ileal strictures required surgery, mostly due to steroid-resistant disease. Overall, 75 MR findings were documented in 221 MRFTs, including 1 renal cancer.
Conclusions: MRFT provides accurate information on ileal CD activity, with close agreement to inflammatory markers and histopathology. It represents a substantial advance in the staging of CD, while avoiding painful enteroclysis and radiation exposure in young patients.