Objectives: Crohn disease (CD) is a chronic inflammation in the digestive tract that affects millions of Americans. Bowel vascularity has important diagnostic information because inflammation is associated with blood flow changes. We recently developed an ultrasensitive ultrasound microvessel imaging (UMI) technique with high vessel sensitivity. This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of UMI to assist CD detection and staging. Methods: Ultrasound microvessel imaging was performed on 76 bowel wall segments from 48 symptomatic patients with CD. Clinically indicated computed tomographic/magnetic resonance enterography was used as the reference standard. The vessel-length ratio (VLR, the number of vessel pixels in the bowel wall segment normalized to the segment length) was derived in both conventional color flow imaging (CFI) and UMI to quantitatively stage disease activity. Receiver operating characteristic curves were then analyzed between different disease groups. Results: The VLR-CFI and VLR-UMI detected similar correlations between vascularization and disease activity: severe inflammation had a higher VLR than normal/mildly inflamed bowels (P <.05). No significant difference was found between quiescent and mild CD due to the small sample size. The VLR-CFI had more difficulties in distinguishing quiescent versus mild CD compared to the VLR-UMI. After combining the VLR-UMI with thickness, in the receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, the areas under the curves (AUCs) improved to AUC1 = 0.996 for active versus quiescent CD, AUC2 = 0.978 for quiescent versus mild CD, and AUC3 = 0.931 for mild versus severe CD, respectively, compared to those using thickness alone (AUC1 = 0.968; P =.04; AUC2 = 0.919; P =.16; AUC3 = 0.857; P =.01). Conclusions: Ultrasound microvessel imaging offers a safe and cost-effective tool for CD diagnosis and staging, which may potentially assist disease activity classification and therapy efficacy evaluation.
- Crohn disease staging
- microvessel imaging
- ultrafast ultrasound imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging