Rectal strictures in Crohn's disease and coexisting perirectal complications

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Background:The significance of the presence of rectal strictures in Crohn's disease has not been well studied. The aim of this study was to examine patients diagnosed with Crohn's disease associated with rectal strictures and to describe co-existing manifestations of perianal disease (abscesses, fistulae, or skin tags) and strictures located elsewhere in the colon or small intestine.Methods:A cohort of 70 Crohn's disease patients with rectal strictures were compared with controls without rectal strictures matched for age, gender, and duration of disease. Analysis was done to better elucidate the association of rectal strictures with location of disease and other perirectal complications.Results:The average age of both groups of our Crohn's disease patients was 54 years and the average duration of disease since diagnosis was 315 months for the patients and 314 months for the controls. 54% of patients were women and 46% were men. 61.4% of the study population had Crohn's colitis, whereas the remaining 38.6% of patients had ileo-colonic involvement. In contrast, the majority of the control population had ileo-colonic involvement (74.3%). Perirectal fistulae were present in 61% of patients with rectal strictures versus 34.3% of controls (p value = 0.001). Perirectal abscesses were present in 50% of rectal stricture patients vs. 17.1% of controls (p value < 0.001). Anal skin tags were observed in 23% of study patients vs. 15.7% of controls (p value = 0.275). 37% of patients with rectal strictures also had strictures more proximal in the colon as compared to 54% of controls (p value = 0.07). Only 10% of the study population had small bowel strictures vs. 55.7% of the controls (p value < 0.001).Conclusions:This observational study of Crohn's disease patients suggests that the majority of patients with rectal strictures have colonic involvement and increased perianal fistulae and abscesses. Only a minority of patients was observed to have ileal or ileo-colonic disease, perianal skin tags, or strictures elsewhere. A future study will examine whether the severity of stricturing disease can tell us anything about the disease distribution, prognosis, or response to treatment. Patients with rectal strictures and associated perirectal disease may represent a specific phenotypic presentation of Crohn's disease that warrants further study and correlation with serological markers so as to better aid this subgroup of patients.

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