Infliximab is recognized as an effective therapy in unresponsive luminal and fistulating Crohn's disease. The use of maintenance or 'on demand' therapy thereafter is controversial. To assess the need for maintenance infliximab therapy in a clinical setting where immunomodulatory agents are widely used and where episodic therapy is used in preference to maintenance therapy. Ninety-three patients with Crohn's disease receiving infliximab; 72 with unresponsive luminal disease and 21 with fistulous disease. Data collected included disease site and duration, surgical and smoking history, initial response rates, duration of response maintenance and concomitant medications. Fifty-six of 72 (78%) patients with luminal disease and 11 of 21 (52%) with fistulous disease achieved an initial response. Ten of 67 responders required conversion to maintenance infliximab infusions, while 31 remain in remission. Patients with luminal disease and those who had not taken previous surgery had higher response rates to infliximab. Younger patients and those with small bowel disease had higher relapse rates following initial response. Three patients developed allergic reactions to infliximab and one patient died of progressive pulmonary disease 6 weeks after their first infusion. Many patients with Crohn's disease can be maintained successfully with an episodic infliximab regimen.
University College Dublin ->