OBJECTIVE: Childhood onset Crohn's disease (CD) is considered more aggressive than adult onset disease. Epithelioid cell granulomas in intestinal biopsies are one, non-obligate, criterion of CD. We investigated granulomas as markers of CD severity in children followed to adulthood.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Forty-five individuals with childhood onset CD were studied from diagnosis until attainment of final height, with data on disease location, medical and surgical management and with detailed growth data analyses. A blinded review of diagnostic biopsies was also performed.
RESULTS: We found granulomas in 22/45 (49%) children at diagnosis, altogether in 28/45 (62%) patients during the disease course (median overall follow-up - 12.3 years, range 9.3-18). Granulomas were found in 9/11 (82%) with upper gastrointestinal involvement (cumulatively 17/20, 85%) (p = 0.017 and p = 0.006, respectively). The time from diagnosis to initiating immune modulating treatment (median 4.5 months, range 0-75) was shorter in the granuloma-positive group (16/22) compared to the granuloma-negative group (18/23) (median 33 months, range 2-105; p = 0.01). The median standard deviation score height at diagnosis and final adult height (both adjusted for target height) did not correlate to findings of granulomas.
CONCLUSIONS: Epithelioid cell granulomas were associated with a shorter time to initiating immune modulating drugs, as a possible sign of more severe disease, but growth was not affected.
2014. Vol. 49, no 8, 950-7 p.