Presence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms in Quiescent Inflammatory Bowel Disease Is Associated with High Rate of Anxiety and Depression

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; Crohn’s disease, CD and Ulcerative colitis, UC) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have overlapping symptoms. Few prevalence studies of IBS in quiescent IBD have used colonoscopy with histology to confirm inactive disease. The aims were (1) to determine the percentage of IBD patients in deep remission whose persistent IBS-like symptoms (IBD/IBS+) would cause them to be classified as having active disease, based on the calculation of Harvey Bradshaw Index (HBI) or UC disease activity index (UCDAI); (2) to identify demographic and disease characteristics that are associated with IBD/IBS+. 

This was a prospective study at a single tertiary care IBD center. 96/112 patients with colonoscopy and histology confirmed quiescent disease consented and completed Rome III criteria for IBS Survey, and the hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS). Other demographic and disease specific data were collected. 

36% (28/77) and 37% (7/19) of CD and UC patients, respectively, met diagnostic criteria for IBS. Significantly higher HBI/UCDAI scores (p = 0.005) and low short inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire (SIBDQ) scores (p ≤ 0.0001) were seen in IBD/IBS+ patients. 29% of patients in deep remission were mis-categorized by HBI/UCDAI as having active disease when they fulfilled Rome III criteria for IBS. Psychiatric diagnosis (OR 3.53 95% CI 1.2-10.2) and earlier onset of IBD (OR 1.056 95% CI 1.015-1.096) were associated with IBD/IBS+. Patients fulfilling IBS criteria had higher hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS). 

IBD/IBS+ affect scoring of IBD disease activity scales and become less useful in guiding treatment plans.