Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a non-infectious chronic disease of the intestine. The two main subtypes of IBD are Crohn’s disease (CD) and Ulcerative colitis (UC). Their actual cause remains unknown but they are believed to result from the interaction of genetic, immune, and environmental factors. As IBD is a relatively new disease in Hong Kong, the Institute of Digestive Disease (IDD) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) is now planning to create a Hong Kong IBD Registry (『Nixon-TAM IBD Registry』) to estimate the total number of affected patients and collect more information of IBD in Hong Kong.

IBD is characterized by the inflammation of the mucosal lining of the intestine. Patients often suffer from irregular bowel movements with blood and mucus, severe diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, serious complications such as acute ballooning of the bowel (『toxic megacolon』) or intestinal perforation may occur. About two-third of these patients require at least one operation in their lifetime. IBD is a lifelong disease, with the age of onset between 20 and 40 years old. The impaired quality of life leads to substantial morbidity, and represents an important public health problem. There is at present no cure for IBD.

In the past two decades, the incidence of IBD has been increasing in Asia. A research team led by Prof. Siew Chien NG, Assistant Professor, IDD conducted an IBD epidemiology study across 9 countries and regions in Asia-Pacific, including Australia, mainland China, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Hong Kong. The crude annual overall incidence of IBD per 100,000 individuals was 1.37. There were more male than female patients with CD and UC. It also discovered that Hong Kong and Macau are among the top three regions with the highest incidence of IBD in the study. The incidence of Hong Kong and Macau were 3.0 and 2.2 per 100,000 respectively. There has been a three-fold increase in the incidence of IBD patients in Hong Kong from 1.0 in 1991-2001 to 3.0 per 100,000 in 2013. Complicated and penetrating diseases are common in Asia.

Due to the lack of systematic data of the IBD in Hong Kong, its diagnosis may be delayed because of poor awareness among physicians and patients and thus often leads to poor control of the disease. IDD is now planning to create a Hong Kong IBD Registry (『Nixon-TAM IBD Registry』) to estimate the total number of affected patients and collect relevant information. 14 public hospitals will participate in the registry. For patients following up in private practitioners or hospitals, a telephone line 2632-1519 will be opened for registration from 12th September to 11th December this year. IDD hopes to promote disease awareness to avoid delayed diagnosis and treatment which could potentially improve the outcome of patients with this chronic disabling disease.

Prof. Siew Chien NG, Assistant Professor, Institute of Digestive Disease, CUHK