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Gastrointestinal ultrasound in inflammatory bowel disease: an underused resource with potential paradigm-changing application


Evolution of treatment targets in IBD has increased the need for objective monitoring of disease activity to guide therapeutic strategy. Although mucosal healing is the current target of therapy in IBD, endoscopy is invasive, expensive and unappealing to patients. GI ultrasound (GIUS) represents a non-invasive modality to assess disease activity in IBD. It is accurate, cost-effective and reproducible. GIUS can be performed at the point of care without specific patient preparation so as to facilitate clinical decision-making. As compared with ileocolonoscopy and other imaging modalities (CT and MRI), GIUS is accurate in diagnosing IBD, detecting complications of disease including fistulae, strictures and abscesses, monitoring disease activity and detecting postoperative disease recurrence. International groups increasingly recognise GIUS as a valuable tool with paradigm-changing application in the management of IBD; however, uptake outside parts of continental Europe has been slow and GIUS is underused in many countries. The aim of this review is to present a pragmatic guide to the positioning of GIUS in IBD clinical practice, providing evidence for use, algorithms for integration into practice, training pathways and a strategic implementation framework.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • gastrointestinal ultrasound
  • mucosal healing

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