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J Clin Imaging Sci. 2011;1:35. doi: 10.4103/2156-7514.82339. Epub 2011 Jun 25.

Role of Magnetic Resonance Enterography in Differentiating between Fibrotic and Active Inflammatory Small Bowel Stenosis in Patients with Crohn's Disease.

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Department of Radiology, San Bonifacio Hospital, 37042 San Bonifacio (Verona), Italy.



To assess the diagnostic accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in prospectively differentiating between fibrotic and active inflammatory small bowel stenosis in patients with Crohn's disease (CD).


A total of 111 patients with histologically proven CD presenting with clinical and plain radiographic signs of small bowel obstruction underwent coronal and axial MRI scans after oral administration of polyethylene glycol solution. A stenosis was judged present if a small bowel segment had >80% lumen reduction as compared to an adjacent normal loop and mural thickening of >3 mm. At the level of the stenosis, both T2 signal intensity and post-gadolinium T1 enhancement were quantified using a 5-point scale (0: very low; 1: low; 2: moderate; 3: high; and 4: very high). A stenosis was considered fibrotic if the sum of the two values (activity score: AS) did not exceed 1.


A small bowel stenosis was identified in 48 out of 111 patients. Fibrosis was confirmed at histology in all of the 23 patients with AS of 0 or 1, who underwent surgery within 3 days of the MRI examination. In the remaining 25 patients (AS: 2-8), an active inflammatory stenosis was suspected and remission of the obstructive symptoms was obtained by means of medical treatment. One of these patients (AS: 2), however, underwent surgery after 14 days, due to recurrence. MRI had 95.8% sensitivity, 100% specificity, and 97.9% accuracy in the diagnosis of fibrotic stenosis.


MRI is reliable in differentiating fibrotic from inflammatory small bowel stenosis in CD.


Crohn's disease; MR enteroclysis; intestinal stenosis; small bowel imaging

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