Background & Aims: Stenosis is a common complication of Crohn's disease (CD) that has no effective medical therapy. Development of antifibrotic agents will require testing in randomized controlled trials. Computed tomography enterography- and magnetic resonance enterography-based technologies might be used to measure outcomes in these trials. These approaches have been validated in studies of patients with symptomatic strictures who underwent imaging evaluations followed by resection with histopathologic grading of the intestinal tissue for inflammation and/or fibrosis (the reference standard). Imaging findings have correlated with findings from quantitative or semiquantitative histologic evaluation of the degree of fibromuscular stenosis and/or inflammation on the resection specimen. However, it is not clear whether histologic findings are an accurate reference standard. We performed a systematic review of all published histologic scoring systems used to assess stenosing CD. Methods: We performed a comprehensive search of Embase and MEDLINE of studies through March 13, 2019, that used a histologic scoring system to characterize small bowel CD and assessed inflammatory and fibrotic alterations within the same adult individual. All scores fitting the criteria were included in our analysis, independent of the presence of stricturing disease, as long as inflammation and fibrosis were evaluated separately but in the same scoring system. Results: We observed substantial heterogeneity among the scoring systems, which were not derived from modern principles for evaluative index development. None had undergone formal validity or reliability testing. None of the existing indices had been constructed according to accepted methods for the development of evaluative indices. Basic knowledge regarding their operating properties were lacking. Specific indices for evaluating the important pathologic component of myofibroblast hypertrophy or hyperplasia have not been proposed. Conclusions: In a systematic review of publications, we found a lack of validated histopathologic scoring systems for assessment of fibromuscular stenosis. Data that describe the operating properties of existing cross-sectional imaging techniques for stenosing CD should be questioned. Development and validation of a histopathology index is an important research priority.
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