Crohn's disease is a chronic, disabling disease that, over time, can lead to irreversible bowel damage. MRI can be used to diagnose and assess the activity, severity and complications of Crohn's disease; however, the role of MRI in therapeutic monitoring of changes in disease-related intestinal damage is still to be defined. Objective, validated MRI-based scores have been developed to assess the activity of Crohn's disease; these indices are based on the extent and severity of intestinal inflammation, postoperative recurrence and perianal disease. MRI is accurate, safe, reproducible and can allow repeated evaluations of patients without radiation exposure. Evidence that MRI might be valuable in the therapeutic monitoring of patients with Crohn's disease is increasing and, in combination with endoscopy and surgical history, this imaging technique could enable clinicians to assess Crohn's-disease-related intestinal damage. MRI could, therefore, have a crucial role in a future 'damage-driven' treatment paradigm-in which imaging is used to monitor intestinal damage and medication use is targeted to prevent the accumulation of further damage. This damage-driven therapeutic approach could potentially change the course of Crohn's disease.
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