Background. The purpose of this study was to clarify the long-term course of Crohn's disease (CD) and predictors of its prognosis in Japan. Methods. This was a historical cohort study of 276 patients with CD who had been diagnosed between 1965 and 1998. The clinical course was evaluated by the course of the CD score (CCDS) according to the required treatments. The predictive factors were examined by stepwise regression test. The cumulative rates of operation and survival were calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Results. Patients with colitis-type CD had significantly lower annual and cumulative operation rates than those with other types, and showed significantly better progress, estimated by the CCDS, than patients with ileocolitis type. Reliable predictors for the 2- to 5-year clinical course after starting treatment were the CCDS, the presence of laparotomy during the initial year, and onset at age 30 years or more. The predictors for the 6- to 10-year clinical course were the duration of symptoms at diagnosis and onset at age 16 years or less. The predictors for the 11- to 15-year clinical course were the CCDS, the maximum International Organization of the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IOIBD) assessment score during the first year after starting treatment, and the effectiveness of the initial treatment. Relative survival rates at 5, 10, 15, and 20 years after the onset were 98.9%, 98.1%, 97.7%, and 94.9%, respectively. Conclusions. CD patients with colitis type showed a better clinical course and had significantly different clinical features compared with the patients with ileitis and ileocolitis type. Prediction of the longterm course of CD is possible by using clinical factors during the first year after starting treatment. The relative survival rates in Japanese patients with CD are not different from those seen in Western countries.
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