Impact of diagnostic delay to the clinical presentation and associated factors in pediatric IBD

Impact of diagnostic delay to the clinical presentation and associated factors in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease: a retrospective study

Sulkanen E, Repo M, Huhtala H, Hiltunen P, Kurppa K Published Oct 2021, in the BMC Gastroenterology.


Abstract

Background: Undelayed diagnosis is thought to be a major determinant for good prognosis in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (PIBD). However, factors predicting diagnostic delay and the consequences of this remain poorly defined. We investigated these issues in a well-defined cohort of PIBD patients.

Methods: Comprehensive electronic data were collected from 136 PIBD patients retrospectively. Diagnostic delay was further classified into < 6 and ≥ 6 months, and < 12 and ≥ 12 months. Logistic regression was used to calculate whether the delay was associated with clinical features and/or risk of complications and co-morbidities at diagnosis.

Results: The median age of patients was 12.4 years and 43.4% were females. Altogether 35.5% had Crohn´s disease (CD), 59.1% ulcerative colitis (UC) and 6.6% IBD undefined (IBD-U). The median delay before diagnosis was 5.0 months in all, 6.6 months in CD, 4.1 months in UC, and 9.8 months in IBD-U (UC vs. CD, p = 0.010). In all but IBD-U most of the delay occurred before tertiary center referral. Abdominal pain predicted a delay > 6 months in all PIBD (OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.00-4.31) and in UC patients (3.15, 1.14-8.7), while bloody stools predicted a shorter delay in all PIBD (0.28, 0.14-0.59) patients and in CD (0.10, 0.03-0.41) patients. A delay > 6 months was associated with a higher frequency of complications (2.28, 1.01-5.19).

Conclusions: Delay occurred mostly before specialist consultation, was longer in children presenting with abdominal pain and in CD and was associated with risk of complications. These findings emphasize the roles of active case-finding and prompt diagnostic evaluations.


Keywords: Crohn’s disease; Diagnostic delay; Pediatric inflammatory bowel disease; Ulcerative colitis.

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