Knowledge of the severity and extent of the inflammation in inflammatory bowel diseases provides a means of determining rational therapeutic strategies in affected patients. During the past 3 decades, several clinical, laboratory, and combined indices have been proposed for the assessment of inflammatory bowel disease; refinements in radiologic methods and the availability of endoscopy and biopsy have facilitated the accurate assessment of the extent and severity of the disease. In relapsing conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, however, the use of such procedures is limited by the radiation exposure or the relatively invasive nature of the technique. In this article, we review the proposed methods and recent advances in assessment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease; we also discuss possible strategies at the time of diagnosis, during recurrence, and in evaluation of the efficacy of drug or dietetic therapy.
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