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Diagnostic Delay in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Systematic Review

Matoi, S; Hay, C; Baines, LM; Saunders, B; Farmer, AD; Cross, E; Ajbar, A; Prior, J


S Matoi

C Hay

LM Baines

AD Farmer

E Cross

A Ajbar


Introduction Delays in diagnosing pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are common, but the extent of this delay remains unclear due to variations in reported time-periods between studies. The objectives of this systematic review were to examine the extent of diagnostic delay in pediatric IBD and examine any association between specific characteristics and length of diagnostic delay. Methods We identified studies from several medical bibliographical databases (EMBASE, Medline and CINAHL) from their inception to April 2021. Studies examining pediatric cohorts (< 18 years old) defined as having a diagnosis of Crohn's Disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC), or by the more general definition of IBD, and reporting a median time-period between the onset of symptoms and a final diagnosis (diagnostic delay) were included. Two reviewers selected each study, extracted data, and assessed their quality using the Newcastle-Ottawa scale. Narrative synthesis was then used to examine the extent of overall diagnostic delay and delay associated with specific sample characteristics. Results Of the 10,119 studies initially identified, 24 were included in the review. The overall median diagnostic delay range was 2-10.4 months for IBD, 2.0-18.0 months for UC and 4.0-24.0 months for CD. However, for approximately two thirds of UC (68.8%) and CD (66.7%) studies, delay ranged from 2.0-3.0 and 4.0-6.3 months, respectively. A longer delay was significantly associated with several sample characteristics; however, these were too infrequently examined to draw robust conclusion on their role. Conclusion Children continue to wait several months for a final diagnosis of IBD, and those with CD experience longer delay than those with UC. The role of specific characteristics on delay needs further exploration.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 14, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 14, 2022
Publication Date Mar 14, 2022
Journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences
Print ISSN 0163-2116
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 67
Pages 5444–5454
Keywords diagnostic delay; Inflammatory bowel disease; Chron's disease; Ulcerative colitis; Pediatric
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