Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a longstanding recurrent inflammatory disorder that is most prevalent in Western countries but is increasing in Asiatic countries. The worldwide increase in the incidence of IBD, comprising Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and IBD unclassified, is having a significant impact on health care systems. Achievement of an optimal quality of care of IBD requires a multidisciplinary approach by different clinical disciplines, including pathology. Histopathology plays an essential role in the diagnosis and management of IBD. The pathologist excludes or confirms and subtypes IBD, assesses its activity and response to treatment and diagnoses preneoplastic lesions on endoscopic biopsies. Suboptimal sampling during endoscopy or insufficient clinical information, however, hampers the pathologist in making a diagnosis . The main histological features of IBD are disturbance of the architecture and basal plasmacytosis, though a wide variety of disorders resemble IBD not only clinically and endoscopically but also histologically. Distinction between IBD and these mimics is essential as misdiagnosis results in delayed and incorrect management. Their differentiation is, however, not always straightforward and, in addition to a standard clinical examination, requires serology, imaging, endoscopy, histology and other investigations .
The year is slowly coming to an end and we can start looking forward to 2022 and hopefully returning to our normal, pre-COVID existence. Next year’s ECCO Congress will be among the first major scientific meetings within our specialty to have physical attendance. I’m sure you are all looking forward to meeting colleagues and friends in real life as much as I am. Don’t forget to sign up for our Basic Science Workshop!
Approximately 25% of patients with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) require admission to hospital for acute severe (ASUC) or refractory disease, with one-third suffering from multiple episodes . The mainstay of initial anti-inflammatory treatment remains corticosteroids, following the seminal report from Truelove and Witts in the BMJ in 1955 [2, 3]. Here, 210 patients were randomised to standard care with oral cortisone or placebo. Significant benefit was demonstrated in the cortisone group, particularly in those at index presentation and those who had mild UC. At follow-up to 2 years, 21.5% had undergone surgery.
It is interesting that acute colectomy rates remain approximately 20% despite improvements in overall care and infliximab or ciclosporin ‘rescue’ therapy [1, 3]. The CONSTRUCT trial, reported in 2016, demonstrated no significant difference in the frequency of colectomy between these rescue medications, with surgery required in roughly 40% of steroid-refractory patients within one year.
The anti-tumour necrosis factor monoclonal antibody infliximab is one of the most widely used therapies for corticosteroid-refractory Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Long-term use of infliximab is associated with an increased risk of adverse events such as malignancies and infections, which is particularly concerning for those on concurrent immunosuppressive medications such as corticosteroids, thiopurines or calcineurin inhibitors [1–3]. With the number of patients with UC on long-term infliximab therapy continuing to rise, an important clinical question to address is whether these patients remain in remission upon discontinuing infliximab. Prospective studies have evaluated discontinuation of infliximab in patients with Crohn’s Disease, with deep (i.e. clinical, biological and endoscopic) remission thought to have a lower risk of relapse, but the evidence for patients with UC is limited to retrospective studies [4–6]. The HAYABUSA study aimed to address this issue with a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate discontinuing infliximab in patients with UC in remission.
Johan Burisch is a gastroenterologist in training who is currently working in Copenhagen, Denmark. His research focusses on IBD epidemiology. He works with both population-based cohorts of patients and the Danish national patient registries. Furthermore, he is involved in developing eHealth solutions for self-monitoring in IBD. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed papers on IBD epidemiology as well as several book chapters. In 2019, he was awarded the UEG Rising Star award. He has been Y-ECCO Chair since 2020.