2 May 2022
Crohn’s disease [CD] is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease [IBD] that can result in progressive bowel damage and disability.1 CD can affect individuals of any age, from children to the elderly,2,3 and may cause significant morbidity and impact on quality of life. Up to one-third of patients present with complicated behaviour [strictures, fistula, or abscesses] at diagnosis.4 Most patients over time will develop a complication, with roughly 50% of patients requiring surgery within 10 years of diagnosis.5–7 As the precise aetiology of CD remains unknown, a curative therapy is not yet available.8 Several agents are available for the medical treatment of CD. Medical agents include mesalazine [5-ASA], locally active steroids [such as budesonide], systemic steroids, thiopurines such as azathioprine [AZA] and mercaptopurine [MP], methotrexate [MTX], and biologic therapies (such as anti-tumour necrosis factor [TNF], anti-integrins, and anti-interleukin [IL] 12/23].
The European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation [ECCO] produces and regularly updates several guidelines aimed at providing evidence-based guidance on critical aspects of IBD care to all health care professionals who manage patients with IBD. To provide high-quality evidence-based recommendations on medical treatment in CD, ECCO decided to develop these guidelines by adopting the GRADE [Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation] approach.9 GRADE is a systematic process for developing guidelines which addresses how to frame the health care questions, summarise the evidence, formulate the recommendations, and grade their strength and the quality of the associated evidence. GRADE increases transparency at all levels of this process and makes explicit the three considerations that lead to a particular recommendation: the quality of the evidence, the balance of benefits and harms, and the patients’ values and preferences. Therefore ECCO reviewed the available high-quality evidence on the medical management of CD and developed evidence-based recommendations on the medical treatment of adult patients with CD. These guidelines do not cover specific situations, such as postoperative management of adult patients with CD, which was already covered in the latest ECCO Guidelines on Crohn’s disease.10