Published online Jun 14, 2011. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i22.2702
Revised: August 11, 2010
Accepted: August 18, 2010
Published online: June 14, 2011
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory bowel diseases that often involve organs other than those of the gastrointestinal tract. Immune-related extraintestinal manifestations (EIMs) are usually related to disease activity, but sometimes may take an independent course. Globally, about one third of patients develop these systemic manifestations. Phenotypic classification shows that certain subsets of patients are more susceptible to developing EIMs, which frequently occur simultaneously in the same patient overlapping joints, skin, mouth, and eyes. The clinical spectrum of these manifestations varies from mild transitory to very severe lesions, sometimes more incapacitating than the intestinal disease itself. The great majority of these EIMs accompany the activity of intestinal disease and patients run a higher risk of a severe clinical course. For most of the inflammatory EIMs, the primary therapeutic target remains the bowel. Early aggressive therapy can minimize severe complications and maintenance treatment has the potential to prevent some devastating consequences.