Objectives: Identifying inflammation- or fibrosis-predominant strictures in Crohn’s disease (CD) is crucial for treatment strategies. We evaluated the additive value of magnetisation transfer (MT) to conventional MRI for differentiating CD strictures using surgical histopathology as a reference standard. Methods: Twenty-eight consecutive CD patients who underwent MRI preoperatively were recruited. MRI parameters included T2-weighted imaging (T2WI) hyperintensity, bowel wall thickness, enhancement pattern changes over time, enhancement pattern and gain ratio in dynamic contrast-enhanced phases, and MT ratio. Correlation analysis was performed using Spearman’s rank test. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis and Cohen’s κ were used. A model with combined MRI variables characterising intestinal strictures was proposed and validated in 14 additional CD patients. Results: Significant correlations with histological inflammation scores were shown for wall thickness (r = 0.361, p = 0.001) and T2WI hyperintensity (r = 0.396, p < 0.001), whereas histological fibrosis scores were significantly correlated with MT ratio (r = 0.681, p < 0.001) and wall thickness (r = 0.461, p < 0.001). T2WI hyperintensity could differentiate mild from moderate-to-severe inflammation with a sensitivity of 0.871 and a specificity of 0.800. MT ratio could discriminate mild from moderate-to-severe fibrosis with a sensitivity and a specificity of 0.913 and 0.923, respectively. Combining MT ratio and T2WI hyperintensity, the MRI classification moderately agreed with the pathological stricture classification (p < 0.01, κ = 0.549). In the validation set, the diagnostic accuracy of T2WI hyperintensity and MT ratio were 86% and 89%, with good agreement between MRI and histopathological classification (p < 0.01, κ = 0.665). Conclusions: MT ratio combined with conventional MRI improves the differentiation of fibrotic from inflammatory components of small-bowel strictures in CD patients. Key Points: • MT ratio from magnetisation transfer imaging combined with T2WI from conventional MRI can simultaneously characterise bowel fibrosis and inflammation in adult Crohn’s disease.
- Crohn’s disease
- Magnetic resonance imaging