Intestinal inflammation in Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) that’s not properly controlled can lead to complications, and a need for corticosteroid therapy, hospitalization or surgery.
This risk may be reduced by combining biologic therapies that help to keep GI inflammation under control with tools that allow physicians to monitor disease activity, including an endoscopy.
Although IBD patients are rarely given an endoscopy to monitor GI inflammation shortly after starting a biological therapy, data from the study led by Berkeley Limketkai, MD, PhD, the director of clinical research at the UCLA Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, highlighted the importance of performing this procedure early on.
“Early endoscopic evaluation after the initiation of biologic therapy reduces the risk of disease-related complications and is consistent with the treat-to-target approach to IBD control,” Limketkai said in a news story written by Ted Bosworth.
“For every 1% increase in early proactive monitoring, there was a 0.6% reduction in the rate of disease-related complications at the end of two years,” he said.
In the study, Limketkai and colleagues analyzed health claims data from 19,899 patients with Crohn’s and 7,247 with ulcerative colitis who had started treatment with a biologic agent.
Patients were divided into two groups, depending on whether they had an early and proactive endoscopy. (The study defined an early proactive endoscopy as a procedure given within six months of a patient starting treatment with a biologic agent, without criteria that would make the procedure mandatory — like starting treatment with corticosteroids, being hospitalized, or having bowel surgery.)
The two-year incidence of disease-related complications — including use of corticosteroids, change of biologic agents, hospitalization and bowel surgery — was compared between the two groups.
Findings revealed that even though more than half of Crohn’s (56.4%) and UC patients (67.8%) underwent an endoscopy within the first two years of starting biologic treatment, only 11% of those with CD and 12.8% of those with UC had an early proactive endoscopy.
After two years of treatment, an early proactive endoscopy was associated with a 13% reduction in complications among UC patients, and 10% among those with Crohn’s, data showed.
Corticosteroid use had the biggest complication-related drop among those with an early proactive endoscopy (17% CD patients, 23% a UC), compared to those who did not have the procedure.
In ulcerative colitis patients, data showed that an endoscopy given four to six months after starting a biologic therapy had the best chances of lowering the risks of disease complications. No specific time interval was seen as superior to others among Crohn’s patients, but in general the earlier the procedure was performed, the better.
Although this retrospective study cannot state with certainty that early endoscopy will improve clinical outcomes for IBD patients, it does suggest the procedure helps in making necessary treatment adjustments before more severe symptoms are evident.
“These findings suggest that the benefit of early endoscopy may relate to proactive disease monitoring and early treatment optimization,” Limketkai said.
Study results were also presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).
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