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Gut. 2010 Sep;59(9):1200-6. doi: 10.1136/gut.2009.202101. Epub 2010 Jul 21.

Natural history of Crohn's disease in a population-based cohort from Cardiff (1986-2003): a study of changes in medical treatment and surgical resection rates.

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Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital of Wales Cardiff, UK.



Benefits of immunosuppressive therapy in Crohn's disease have been demonstrated in controlled trials; however, it is unclear whether these drugs alter the longer-term natural history of this condition.


To assess changes in disease outcomes in a population-based cohort of patients diagnosed in Cardiff from 1986 to 2003. Case notes from Crohn's disease incidence studies in Cardiff were reviewed retrospectively for disease characteristics and follow-up information on drug therapy, and the need for surgery for Crohn's disease. The study population was divided into three groups by year of diagnosis (Group A=1986-1991, Group B=1992-1997 and Group C=1998-2003).


341 patients were included. Kaplan-Meier (KM) analysis showed increasing use of immunosuppressants over time. At 5 years after diagnosis this was 11% in Group A, 28% in Group B, and 45% in Group C (p=0.001) and the median time to start of thiopurines was 77, 21 and 11 months in Group A, B and C respectively. There was a significant reduction in long-term steroid use at 5 years post diagnosis: 45 (44%), 31 (31%) and 24 (19%) patients in Group A, B and C respectively (p=0.001). KM analysis showed a significant reduction in the cumulative probability of intestinal surgery: At 5 years this was 59% (Group A), 37% (Group B) and 25% (Group C) (p=0.001). In a multivariate Cox analysis, year of diagnosis, disease location, oral corticosteroids within 3 months of diagnosis and early thiopurine use (within the first year of diagnosis) were all independent factors affecting likelihood of intestinal surgery.


This population-based cohort shows marked changes in rates of surgery, and the reduction is independently associated with year of diagnosis, and associated temporally with increased and earlier thiopurine use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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