Background: Symptomatic Crohn's disease (CD) patients often undergo diagnostic imaging studies for evaluation of disease activity or complications including bowel strictures and obstruction. Magnetic resonance enterography (MRE) provides information regarding disease activity, chronicity, and stricture formation without using ionizing radiation. Aim: Examine the use of MRE among CD patients presenting with symptoms suggesting obstruction in a tertiary care practice setting. Methods: We performed a retrospective study of all CD patients undergoing MRE at a tertiary IBD referral center over a 3-year study period including a subgroup analysis of patients presenting obstructive symptoms. Positive and negative findings from MRE were correlated with medical and surgical decision outcomes over the subsequent 90-day period. Results: In the study, 119 CD patients underwent 133 MRE scans, including 40 scans on individuals presenting with obstructive symptoms. Positive findings of CD including active inflammation, stricturing, and penetrating disease were more frequent in MREs ordered to evaluate obstructive symptoms (87.5%) compared other indications (58.1%, p = 0.001). In patients presenting with obstructive symptoms, MRE findings assisted in directing a change of clinical management towards escalation of medical therapy in 55% and surgery in 32.5%. Review of surgical resection specimens corroborated MRE findings of disease activity and fibrosis in 92% of cases going to surgery. Conclusions: In practice-based use at a tertiary IBD referral center, MRE provided an effective, radiation-free alternative to computed tomography by providing valuable diagnostic information for evaluating and directing care in Crohn's disease, particularly for patients presenting with obstructive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2906-2913
Number of pages8
JournalDigestive diseases and sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Crohn's disease
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Magnetic resonance enterography
  • Obstructive symptoms


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