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P637. Incidence and clinical characteristics of inflammatory bowel disease in the Faroe Islands during 2005–2009

K.R. Nielsen1, S. Jacobsen2, K. Olsen1, T. Jess3, S. Gaini1, 1National Hospital of the Faroe Islands, Medical Department, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, 2Genetic Biobank, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, 3Statens Serum Institut, Department of Epidemiology Research, Denmark


Limited data are available on incidence and phenotype of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the Faroe Islands. The most recent prospective study dates back to 1981–1988 and showed a mean incidence of 20.3/105/year for ulcerative colitis (UC) and 3.6/105/year for Crohn's disease (CD). We aimed to update these figures by conducting a population-based study of incidence, phenotypes, and age- and sex-distribution of IBD in the Faroe Islands between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009.


We constructed a cohort of all patients who were diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2009 in the Faroe population of 49,000 individuals from the national patient registry. All hospital records, endoscopy records and pathology records were carefully reviewed and the diagnoses were stricly assessed using the Copenhagen Criteria.


During 2005–2009, 87 patients were diagnosed with IBD (47 UC, 18 IC and 22 CD), yielding a mean annual IBD incidence of 35.5/105. The incidence of UC/IC had increased from 20.3/105 in the 1980s to a current incidence of 26.8/105 and the incidence of CD had increased from 3.6/105 in the 1980s to 8.7/105 in the new millenium. Among patients with UC/IC, the male to female ratio was 1.23 with a mean age at diagnosis of 38.4 years (range, 3 to 76 years). Forty percent had pancolitis at time of diagnosis, whereas 32.3% had proctitis, and 27.7% left sided colitis. In patients with CD, the male to female ratio was also increased (1.63) and the mean age at diagnosis was 40.5 years. The majority of patients had pure colonic CD (47.6%), wheras 19.1% had involvement of both colon and the small intestine, and 33.3% had small bowel affection only.


Over the last 30 years, the incidence of IBD, and especially CD, has increased in the Faroe Islands, with a male predomincance in disease and with the majority of patients presenting with pancolitis or colonic CD. The IBD incidence of 35.5/105 points towards a strong genetic disposition in this population, whereas the increase in incidence over time is assumed to reflect specific changes in environmental exposures in this population. These observations merrit detailed investigation.