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J Cell Physiol. 2010 Jun;223(3):562-71. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22069.

Imaging of cell trafficking in Crohn's disease.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.


Inflammatory bowel diseases are represented by ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, both consisting of a chronic, uncontrolled inflammation of the intestinal mucosa of any part of the gastrointestinal tract with patchy or continuous inflammation. Ileo-colonoscopy is considered the current gold standard imaging technique for the diagnosis. However, as the majority of patients need a long-term follow-up it would be ideal to rely on a non-invasive technique with good compliance. This review focuses on nuclear medicine imaging techniques in Crohn's disease. Different scintigraphic methods of imaging cells involved in the pathogenesis are described. The radiopharmaceuticals can be divided into non-specific radiopharmaceuticals for inflammation and specific radiopharmaceuticals that directly image lymphocytes involved in the process. This non-invasive molecular imaging approach can be useful also because it images the small bowel or other areas--where colonoscopy is not useful-and that it may play a role for constant follow-up, because relapses are frequent. Finally, an update on other imaging modalities, and particularly MRI, in the evaluation of Crohn's disease activity, is provided. Although MRI cannot directly detect inflammatory cells, it has shown a high sensitivity in detecting the macroscopic signs of inflammation at the level of the intestinal wall affected by Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis. The current diagnostic value of MRI in the detection of inflamed bowel segment and in the assessment of CD activity, as well the potentials MR spectroscopy, MR diffusion imaging and MR molecular imaging, is briefly discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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