BACKGROUND: Disease phenotype and outcome of late-onset Crohn's disease are still poorly defined. METHODS: In this Italian nationwide multicentre retrospective study, patients diagnosed ≥65 years (late-onset) were compared with young adult-onset with 16-39 years and adult-onset Crohn's disease 40-64 years. Data were collected for 3 years following diagnosis. RESULTS: A total of 631 patients (late-onset 153, adult-onset 161, young adult-onset 317) were included. Colonic disease was more frequent in late-onset (P < 0005), stenosing behaviour was more frequent than in adult-onset (P < 0003), but fistulising disease was uncommon. Surgery rates were not different between the three age groups. Systemic steroids were prescribed more frequently in young adult-onset in the first year, but low bioavailability steroids were used more frequently in late-onset in the first 2 years after diagnosis (P < 0.036, P < 0.041, respectively). The use of immunomodulators and anti-TNF's even in patients with more complicated disease, that is, B2 or B3 behaviour (Montreal classification), remained significantly inferior (P < 0.0001) in late-onset compared to young adult-onset. Age at diagnosis, Charlson comorbidity index, and steroid used in the first year were negatively associated with the use of immunomodulators and biologics. Comorbidities, related medications and hospitalizations were more frequent in late-onset. Polypharmacy was present in 56% of elderly Crohn's disease patients. CONCLUSION: Thirty-two percent of late-onset Crohn's disease presented with complicated disease behaviour. Despite a comparable use of steroids and surgery, immunomodulators and biologics were used in a small number of patients.
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