Crohn's disease (CD) is a lifelong chronic inflammatory bowel disease associated with diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody stool and often perianal fistulae. Inflammation in CD involves the entire gastrointestinal tract, especially including the small and large bowels, causing irreversible bowel damage. Frequent imaging examinations are necessary to monitor disease activity and to evaluate response to therapeutic interventions, and, furthermore, to predict recurrence in order to provide appropriate treatment. The suitable imaging modality should be reproducible, well tolerated, safe and free of ionizing radiation. In recent years, imaging used in CD has dramatically changed. Cross-sectional imaging techniques such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to investigate not only extraluminal abnormalities, but also intraluminal changes. Recently, new techniques such as MR enteroclysis, enterography, colonography and enterocolonography have been developed. These recent advances enable the use of MRI to assess bowel disorders with high sensitivity, specificity and accuracy. MRI can evaluate simultaneously the bowel surface, bowel wall, abdominal abscesses and perianal lesions, such as perianal fistulae and perianal abscesses, without the problem of overlapping bowel loops. Therefore, MRI has the potential for evaluation of the overall disease activity of CD without radiation exposure. We believe that MRI is a suitable first choice imaging modality in the assessment of CD.
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