Brand EC, Elias SG, Minderhoud IM, van der Veen JJ, Baert FJ, Laharie D, Bossuyt P, Bouhnik Y, Buisson A, Lambrecht G, Louis E, Pariente B, Pierik MJ, van der Woude CJ, D'Haens GRAM, Vermeire S, Oldenburg B; Dutch Initiative on Crohn and Colitis (ICC).
Endoscopic healing, an important target of treatment for Crohn's disease (CD), requires ileocolonoscopy, which is costly and burdensome. We investigated whether published noninvasive models (based on symptoms and biomarkers) to evaluate CD activity have sufficient accuracy to replace ileocolonoscopy.
We performed a systematic review of published noninvasive diagnostic models to evaluate CD activity that used endoscopic features of activity (endoscopic activity) or healing as the reference standard. We externally validated these models for the outcome endoscopic activity (CD endoscopic index of severity scores, ≥3) using data from the a randomized controlled trial investigating tailored treatment with infliximab for active luminal Crohn's disease (TAILORIX) study (346 ileocolonoscopies in 155 patients) and the Utrecht Activity Index (UAI) study (93 ileocolonoscopies in 82 patients). We calculated the area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUROCs) for the models using data from these studies, and compared the performance of these models against measurements of fecal calprotectin (FC) and C-reactive protein (CRP).
We screened 5303 articles and identified 27 models (from 21 studies) for our analysis. Seven models could be validated externally; in the TAILORIX data set, these models identified patients with endoscopic activity with AUROC values ranging from 0.61 (95% CI, 0.51-0.70) to 0.81 (95% CI, 0.76-0.86). In this data set, the AUROC value for FC concentration was 0.79 (95% CI, 0.74-0.85) and the AUROC value for CRP level was 0.72 (95% CI, 0.66-0.77). The AUROC values for the validation in the UAI data set were similar. In the TAILORIX and/or UAI data set, 4 of the 7 models, as well as the FC and CRP assays, were able to identify patients with endoscopic activity with positive predictive values of 90% or more. Two of the 7 models (but not the FC or CRP values) identified patients without endoscopic activity with a negative predictive value (NPV) of 90% or more, leading to correct prediction of endoscopic healing in 3.2% to 11.3% of all patients. For example, applying the Herranz-Bachiller model (1 of 7 models) at a NPV of 92.1% and a positive predictive value of 91.9% correctly identified 35.7% of all patients in whom ileocolonoscopy could be avoided for expected endoscopic activity or healing but incorrectly identified 3.2% of all patients. Most ileocolonoscopies (66.5% in TAILORIX and 72.6% in the UAI of all ileocolonoscopies) could be avoided correctly based on concentrations of FC of 100 μg/g or less and 250 μg/g or higher. However, using this range of FC concentrations to identify patients who do not require ileocolonoscopy caused 18.7% of all patients in the TAILORIX cohort and 19.8% of all patients in the UAI cohort to be predicted incorrectly to have endoscopic activity or healing.
In a systematic review and external validation of noninvasive models to identify patients with endoscopic activity of CD, we found only 2 of 7 models evaluated to have NPVs of 90% or more, however, leading to correctly predicted EH in only a small proportion of patients. Ileocolonoscopy therefore remains the mainstay to evaluate CD mucosal disease activity and healing.