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- CD, Crohn’s disease
- CDAI, Crohn’s disease activity index
- CRP, C reactive protein
- CT, computed tomography
- ECCO, European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation
- ESR, erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- IBD, inflammatory bowel disease
- UC, ulcerative colitis
- US, ultrasound
- WCE, wireless capsule endoscopy
Crohn’s disease (CD) is a lifelong disease arising from an interaction between genetic and environmental factors, but seen predominantly in the developed countries of the world. The precise aetiology is unknown and therefore a causal treatment is not yet available. Within Europe there is a distinct north-south gradient, but the incidence seems to have increased in southern countries in recent years.1 Many patients live with a considerable symptom burden despite medical treatment in the hope that the aetiology of the disease will shortly be discovered and curative therapies emerge. Although this seems likely to happen at some time in the next decade, clinicians have to advise patients on the basis of information available today rather than an unknown future. Despite a multiplicity of randomised trials there will always be many questions that can only be answered by the exercise of judgement and opinion. This leads to differences in practice between clinicians, which may be brought into sharp relief by differences in emphasis between countries.
The consensus endeavours to address these differences. The consensus is not meant to supersede the guidelines of different countries (such as those from the UK,2 Germany,3 or France), which reach broadly the same conclusions as they are, after all, based on the same evidence. Rather, the aim of the consensus is to promote a European perspective on the management of CD and its dilemmas. As the development of guidelines is an expensive and time consuming process, it may help to avoid duplication of effort in the future. A consensus is also considered important because an increasing number of therapeutic trials are based in Europe, especially in eastern European countries where practice guidelines have yet to be published.
This document sets out the current European consensus on the diagnosis and management of CD, reached …
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