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Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2013 Oct;19(11):2501-8. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0b013e31828dc6b6.

Diagnostic medical radiation in inflammatory bowel disease: how to limit risk and maximize benefit.

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  • 1Department Digestive Diseases, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.


Diagnosis and management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) requires repeat diagnostic imaging for monitoring of disease activity. Recent evidence has suggested that patients with IBD are at increased risk of radiation exposure from repeat imaging. The aim of this article was to highlight risks associated with increasing radiation exposure and identify alternatives to minimize exposure. The increasing use of computed tomography (CT) in both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis has brought additional benefits to guiding management through non-invasive measures. However, the massive increase in use of CT scans poses a risk of exposing patients with IBD to high levels of diagnostic medical radiation. High levels of diagnostic medical radiation are associated with an increased risk of malignancy in several studies. Numerous studies have identified particular risk factors in IBD associated with high levels of diagnostic medical radiation which are also associated with a more severe disease course. Imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance enterography, ultrasound, small bowel follow through, and capsule endoscopy are alternatives to CT scans as they do not utilize radiation. Gastroenterologists managing patients with IBD, particularly Crohn's disease, should be aware of the increased risk of high cumulative doses of radiation exposure, particularly from CT scanning. Alternative forms of imaging should be carefully considered when evaluating patients, in particularly those with identifiable risk factors for an aggressive disease course.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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