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Top-down or step-up treatment in Crohn's disease?


Rogler, Gerhard (2013). Top-down or step-up treatment in Crohn's disease? Digestive Diseases, 31(1):83-90.

Abstract

In recent years, a change in the treatment goals for patients with Crohn's disease (CD) has come under intense discussion. Whereas 10 years ago treatment was initiated mainly in reaction to acute flares of the disease aimed to improve clinical symptoms, the focus now has changed to the prevention of damage to the intestinal wall. The prevention of structural damage by achievement of 'mucosal healing', however, is associated with the more 'aggressive' treatment and an earlier use of immunosuppressants and biologicals. The use of immunosuppressants and biologicals especially in patients with CD has decreased the rates of surgery and hospitalizations, indicating that there is a group of patients definitely profiting from such an early use of immunosuppressive treatment. In this group of patients, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of immunosuppression: the increased risk of severe infections. However, it remains questionable whether this improvement can only be achieved by completely reversing established treatment strategies. The dispute has been condensed to the questions whether 'top-down' (e.g. start with a combination of biological and immunosuppressant and 'de-escalate' if possible) or 'step-up' treatment (e.g. start with topical steroids, step up to systemic steroid, go to immunosuppression and biologicals if necessary) may be better. In general, in an upcoming era of individualized and personalized medicine, a 'one-size-fits-all' approach does not appear to be desirable. CD patients definitely should not be undertreated (which is still frequently the case) or remain on steroid treatment (which is inappropriate); however, overtreatment (putting patients at risk of side effects without benefit) is against a fundamental principle of medicine: nihil nocere (do no harm).

Abstract

In recent years, a change in the treatment goals for patients with Crohn's disease (CD) has come under intense discussion. Whereas 10 years ago treatment was initiated mainly in reaction to acute flares of the disease aimed to improve clinical symptoms, the focus now has changed to the prevention of damage to the intestinal wall. The prevention of structural damage by achievement of 'mucosal healing', however, is associated with the more 'aggressive' treatment and an earlier use of immunosuppressants and biologicals. The use of immunosuppressants and biologicals especially in patients with CD has decreased the rates of surgery and hospitalizations, indicating that there is a group of patients definitely profiting from such an early use of immunosuppressive treatment. In this group of patients, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of immunosuppression: the increased risk of severe infections. However, it remains questionable whether this improvement can only be achieved by completely reversing established treatment strategies. The dispute has been condensed to the questions whether 'top-down' (e.g. start with a combination of biological and immunosuppressant and 'de-escalate' if possible) or 'step-up' treatment (e.g. start with topical steroids, step up to systemic steroid, go to immunosuppression and biologicals if necessary) may be better. In general, in an upcoming era of individualized and personalized medicine, a 'one-size-fits-all' approach does not appear to be desirable. CD patients definitely should not be undertreated (which is still frequently the case) or remain on steroid treatment (which is inappropriate); however, overtreatment (putting patients at risk of side effects without benefit) is against a fundamental principle of medicine: nihil nocere (do no harm).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:21 Feb 2014 12:50
Last Modified:09 Jun 2016 12:24
Publisher:Karger
ISSN:0257-2753
Additional Information:© 2013 S. Karger AG
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1159/000347190
PubMed ID:23797128

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