Background: Complications of Crohn's disease may include intra-abdominal abscesses, which often result in hospitalization, surgery, and increased cost. There is a paucity of primary research and practice guidelines regarding optimal management in children. The study objective was to assess the current standard of care in an effort to define best practices and identify priority areas for additional research.
Methods: The web-based survey was approved by the Institutional Review Board and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. We examined preferences in imaging, drainage, anti-tumor necrosis factor-α therapy, and antibiotic use. We assessed for associations between provider level of experience and management strategies.
Results: A total of 248 of 1608 North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition members responded. Of them, 64% were male, 87% practiced in the United States, and 74% practiced in an academic setting. Approximately 26% cared for >50 patients with Crohn's disease and 25% were in practice for >20 years. For initial imaging, computed tomography was chosen by 52%, followed by magnetic resonance imaging (26%) and ultrasound (21%), and upon reassessment computed tomography was chosen by 13%, magnetic resonance imaging by 33%, and ultrasound by 47%. About 77% recommended percutaneous drainage, whereas 21% would only do so if antibiotics were unsuccessful, and 2% proceed to immediate surgery. If a fistula was demonstrated, 70% planned medical therapy followed by surgical resection; only 30% planned surgical resection if no fistula was present. Approximately 55% would consider infliximab before surgery. There were no clinically significant associations between treatment strategies and practitioner experience.
Conclusions: There is considerable variation in diagnostic and therapeutic interventions in the management of intra-abdominal abscesses, which was not explained by practitioner experience.