Background: Long diagnostic delay is frequent in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), especially in Crohn's disease (CD), and may lead to irreversible bowel damage. We sought to investigate the diagnostic delay in a large cohort of Austrian IBD patients.
Methods: In a multicentre cohort study adult patients with IBD (Crohn's disease CD, ulcerative colitis UC, inflammatory bowel disease unclassified IBDU) attending 18 Austrian outpatient clinics were recruited between May 2014 and July 2015 to complete a multi-item questionnaire. Medical and socioeconomic chararteristics including diagnostic delay were recorded by that questionnaire. Diagnostic delay was defined as the time period from the first symptom onset to diagnosis of IBD. The survey preparation, data capturing and exploraratory data analysis were performed by using EvaSys software and SPSS.
Results: 1218 patients (792 with CD, 405 with UC, 21 with IBDU; 617 women) with a mean age at the time of investigation of 41.5 years (range 18–87 years) and a mean duration of disease of 12.4 years (range 0–49 years) were analyzed. Patients with IBDU were included in the UC group. The median diagnostic delay in patients with CD was 0.53 years (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45–0.61 years) and in patients with UC/IBDU was 0.28 years (95% CI 0.28–0.36 years) (p<0.001). The probability to be diagnosed with IBD after first symptom onset is given in Figure 1.
Conclusions: In this large Austrian referral center based IBD cohort the diagnostic delay was significantly longer in CD than in UC/IBDU. The median diagnostic delay was 6 months in CD patients and 3 months in UC/IBDU patients.