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Physicians Have a New Tool to Evaluate and Treat Crohn's Disease

Advances in knowledge surrounding gastrointestinal conditions have paved the way for improvements in Crohn's disease (CD) treatment. To aid clinicians in managing patients with CD, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) created a clinical decision tool to effectively guide gastroenterologists throughout their decision-making process.

Advances in knowledge surrounding gastrointestinal conditions have paved the way for improvements in Crohn’s disease (CD) treatment. To aid clinicians in managing patients with CD, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) created a clinical decision tool to effectively guide gastroenterologists throughout their decision-making process.

Published in Gastroenterology, the “Identification, Assessment, and Initial Medical Treatment in Crohn’s Disease Clinical Decision Support Tool” aims to streamline gastroenterologists’ understanding of the disease with data from recent studies to provide a model to follow for successful patient assessment and treatment.

Previous CD treatment focused on clinical symptoms; however, researchers have come to realize that the clinical symptoms observed in patients often poorly correlate with the underlying inflammation associated with CD seen in various computed tomography, endoscopy, histology, and magnetic resonance imaging studies. This is also true when looking at biomarkers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein.

Thus, a workgroup was commissioned to review existing literature and create a simple algorithm that can aid gastroenterologists in assessing patients for active inflammation as well as any presence of complications, gauging their level of risk, and sufficiently treating underlying inflammation with therapies based on AGA guidelines.

The article in Gastroenterology, notes that in addition to this new algorithm, “the AGA Institute and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) have developed quality indicators for inflammatory bowel disease” that focus on simple-to-measure areas, such as administering steroid sparing medications, measuring bone density, and providing vaccinations.

William J. Sandhorn, MD, AGAF, gastroenterology division at the University of San Diego, La Jolla, CA, and the tool’s lead author, commented, “As health-care systems move towards providing better quality care, it is important for gastroenterologists to have clinical support tools that will help them treat underlying disease, as well as the whole person. This clinical support tool represents a big step forward for the treatment of Crohn’s disease and was created using a rigorous review process.”