Background: Little is known about the clinical course of patients with intestinal Behcet's disease (BD). We aimed to evaluate the clinical course of intestinal BD during the first 5 years after diagnosis, and to identify factors that could predict the 5-year clinical course. Methods: We reviewed the medical records of 130 intestinal BD patients who were regularly followed-up for at least 5 years at a single tertiary academic medical center between March 1986 and September 2011. Results: Of the five different clinical course patterns that we observed, persistent remission or mild clinical activity was the most frequent course (56.2 %). The majority of patients (74.6 %) had remission or mild clinical activity at 5 years, and only the minority (16.2 %) had multiple relapses or chronic symptoms. The clinical course of the first year after diagnosis of intestinal BD influenced the clinical course of the following years. Patients in the severe clinical course group were younger, and had a higher ESR, CRP level, and disease activity index for intestinal Behcet's disease (DAIBD), and lower albumin level at diagnosis than patients in the mild clinical course group. Initial presentation with a high DAIBD was independently associated with a severe clinical course. Conclusions: The clinical course of intestinal BD during the first 5 years was variable. A substantial proportion of patients went into remission or had a mild clinical activity, while some patients had a severe, debilitating clinical course as time progressed. High disease activity at diagnosis was a negative prognostic predictor.
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