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Hopkins researchers find MRI useful tool in diagnosing inflammatory bowel diseases in children

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), coupled with the use of the contrast dye gadolinium, may help pediatricians better diagnose children with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Results of the study, published in the March issue of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, showed that the gadolinium-enhanced MRI (G-MRI) confirmed these diagnoses in more than 90 percent of the children in the study who had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Because ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease -- two painful ailments with similar origins and symptoms -- have two very different treatment regimens, especially if surgical treatment is contemplated, early diagnosis is critical, the researchers say.

"For the most severe cases of ulcerative colitis, surgical removal of the colon is the only cure, while there is no cure for Crohn's disease," says Anil Darbari, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children's Center, and the lead author of the study. "Unfortunately, many children who are originally diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and have their diseased colon surgically removed are later found to actually have had Crohn's, which is discovered when the disease resurfaces in another area within the intestinal tract."

"We also found that G-MRI was very helpful in diagnosing pediatric small bowel disease, which occurs in an area in a child's body that is not accessible by conventional endoscopies or colonoscopies," Darbari says. "Because children with small bowel disease may not exhibit traditional Crohn's disease symptoms, finding definitive evidence of small bowel disease, which is affiliated with Crohn's disease, prevents these children from being labeled with indeterminate IBD and allows them to begin the appropriate drug treatment right away."

Previous studies have shown G-MRI is effective in distinguishing Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in adults. However, this is
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Contact: Jessica Collins
jcolli31@jhmi.edu
410-516-4570
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
4-Mar-2004


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