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BACKGROUND: Sacroiliitis is a recognized complication of Crohn's disease and may occur distinct from progressive ankylosing spondylitis (AS). AIM: To estimate prospectively the prevalence of sacroiliitis in patients with established Crohn's disease, to characterize the clinical features and to correlate these with the presence of HLA-B27. METHODS: All Crohn's disease patients under active follow-up of between 5 and 12 years duration were invited to participate. Patients underwent a clinical evaluation including symptom questionnaire, rheumatological examination and underwent HLA genotyping. Patients then underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the sacroiliac joints. The clinical and radiological factors were correlated with HLA-B27 status. RESULTS: 56 patients underwent initial assessment and 44 had MRI scans. Seventeen of 44 (39%) patients had MRI evidence of sacroiliitis, of whom 5 fulfilled the criteria for AS. Symptoms of low back pain were elicited in a majority of these patients--11/17 (65%) compared to 3 of 27 (11%) patients with normal scans (P = 0.003). There were no differences in functional indices with the exception of patients with AS. HLA-B27 was present in seven patients, and all seven had MRI evidence of sacroiliitis, five had AS. CONCLUSIONS: Sacroiliitis is common in patients with established Crohn's disease and in the majority of cases, patients have symptoms of inflammatory low back pain if questioned carefully. HLA-B27 is not associated with isolated sacroiliitis, but is associated with AS. However, possession of HLA-B27 appears to convey a very high risk of developing axial inflammation in Crohn's disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Aliment Pharmacol Ther

Publication Date





193 - 197


Adult, Crohn Disease, Female, Follow-Up Studies, HLA-B27 Antigen, Humans, Low Back Pain, Male, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Sacroiliac Joint, Sacroiliitis, Spondylitis, Time Factors