Silent Anal Fistulas –Sounds Bad, Is It?

A recent prospective study (PH Kim et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 415-23) with 440 consecutive adults (mean age 29.6 years) with Crohn’s disease (CD) identified asymptomatic anal fistulas with MRE (including anal MRI) studies. 36 patients were newly diagnosed and the remainder had established CD.

Key findings:

  • In all of these patients, none of whom had clinical fistulas, an MRE identified “perianal tracts” in 53 (12%).
  • 37 of 290 (12.8%) of patients without a perianal fistula history and 16 of 150 (10.7%) with a history of healed perianal fistula had perianal tracts identified on MRE
  • No patients had any lesions that required treatment after examination by a surgeon
  • MRE detection of asymptomatic tracts was independently associated with later need for perianal treatment: 17.8% cumulative incidence at 37 months (aHR 3.06)

My take: Abnormal perianal tracts on MRE in asymptomatic patients indicate an increased risk of developing clinically-significant perianal disease –though most do not.

More on COVID19:

  • No children with IBD have been reported thus far from ESPGHAN which includes a 100 sites (mainly Europe) (as of March 10th); to report cases: ESPGHAN COVID19 Case Report Page
  • There is some discussion that biologic therapy for IBD may have some protective effects

 

 

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