What about Combination Therapy with Adalimumab?

M Matar et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1627-1635. Free full text link: Combination Therapy of Adalimumab With an Immunomodulator Is Not More Effective Than Adalimumab Monotherapy in Children With Crohn’s Disease: A Post Hoc Analysis of the PAILOT Randomized Controlled Trial

Methods: Participants (n=78, ages 6-17 years) in this study were part of the PAILOT trial; they were naïve to biologic therapy with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease. This was a randomized controlled trial aimed to evaluate proactive vs reactive therapeutic drug monitoring in children with Crohn’s disease (CD) treated with adalimumab. 

Key findings:

  • There was no significant difference in the rates of sustained corticosteroid-free clinical remission (25/34, 73%, vs 28/44, 63%; P = 0.35) or sustained composite outcome of clinical remission, C-reactive protein ≤0.5 mg/dL, and calprotectin ≤150 µg/g (10/34, 29%, vs 14/44, 32%; P = 0.77) between the combination group and the monotherapy group, respectively.
  • Adalimumab trough concentrations and immunogenicity were not significantly different between groups. The rate of serious adverse events was not significantly different between groups but was numerically higher in the monotherapy group. The monotherapy group had three patients undergo ileo-cecal resection.

The discussion reviews a number of studies that have compared combination and monotherapy. One key point is that this study enrolled children who were naïve to biologic therapy; thus, combination therapy may be more useful in those who have failed a previous biologic, particularly if the loss of response was immune-mediated.

My take: This study indicates that combination therapy is likely not routinely needed in children who start adalimumab and who are naïve to biologic therapy. Another finding of interest is the relatively low sustained composite outcome of clinical remission, approximately 30; this outcome combined clinical remission with biological markers. ~30%

Pitt Street Bridge Park, Mt Pleasant SC

Get Ready for 2021 Coding Changes (Part 2)

Earlier in the year, I summarized the upcoming changes for 2021: Link Get Ready for 2021 Coding Changes (with links to AMA resources and tables). Subsequently, I went to a coding seminar led by Jan Rasmusen and wanted to share some additional observations.

  1. One of the most important changes is the need for “medically appropriate history and/or examination” rather than focusing on specific elements. This helps eliminate scoring the history and physical exam and should allow more time to document critical thinking. Besides billing, H&P is still key for helping with continuity of care and for liability.

2. When using time codes and not using medical decision-making, the total time –face-to-face and non face-to-face –is what is used. Total time does not include clinical staff time.

3. A lot of the terms have more specific definitions

4. Medical Decision-Making is Similar to Current Guidelines

5. Creation of a new code for additional time

My take: The intent of these changes is logical.  The goal of coding is to align the reimbursement with the degree of effort and not simply allow pre-formatted templates to justify upcoding.  These changes could lead to simplification of documentation and allow more documentation time for medical decision-making part of the visit.

Resources:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition

Liver Shorts -November 2020 and Georgia’s ACA Waiver

E Zuckerman et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2544-53. Full text link: Eight Weeks of Treatment With Glecaprevir/Pibrentasvir Is Safe and Efficacious in an Integrated Analysis of Treatment-Naïve Patients With Hepatitis C Virus Infection

  • “We pooled data from 8 phase 2 or phase 3 trials of treatment-naïve patients with HCV genotype 1 to 6 infections, without cirrhosis or with compensated cirrhosis, who received 8 weeks of glecaprevir/pibrentasvir.” (n=1248) Key finding:  Overall rates of sustained virologic response at post-treatment week 12 were 97.6% (1218 of 1248) in the intention to treat (ITT) and 99.3% (1218 of 1226) in the modified ITT populations.

JA Silverman et al. JPGN 2020; 71: 283-287. Composite Lipid Emulsion for the Infant at Risk of Intestinal Failure–associated Liver Disease: The Canadian Perspective

This review discussed the use of SMOFlipid that includes soybean, medium-chain triglycerides, olive and fish oils. Key points:

  • “Lipid minimization strategies have also been shown to reverse IFALD [intestinal failure associated liver disease]. There are, however, considerable concerns regarding adequate weight gain, compromise to neurodevelopment, and EFAD [essential fatty acid deficiency]”
  • “Thee is actually considerable safety data for CLE [composite lipid emulsion] in neonates, albeit over the short term.”
  • “In Canada, CLE is currently the lipid emulsion of choice for all infants at risk of IFLAD.”

T Mitchell et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1584-1591. Decreased Physical Working Capacity in Adolescents With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Associates With Reduced Iron Availability

  • Methods: “We collected information on weight-adjusted, submaximal physical work capacity (PWC), ultrasound-determined hepatic steatosis, iron indices, and hematologic and metabolic parameters from 390 female and 458 male participants of the Raine Study—a longitudinal study of disease development … in Western Australia”
  • Key finding: “Fourteen percent of the cohort had NAFLD. PWC was significantly reduced in adolescents with NAFLD compared to adolescents without NAFLD (reduction of 0.17 W/kg, P = .0003, adjusted for sex and body mass index [BMI])… we found NAFLD to be associated with decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, independent of BMI. The relationship between transferrin saturation and PWC in adolescents with NAFLD indicates that functional iron deficiency might contribute to reductions in cardiorespiratory fitness.”

In other news, Georgia has received approval for an affordable care act waiver. From the AJC (October 15, 2020): Kemp’s health care waivers win federal approval Two key points:

  • “Thousands of Georgia’s poor and uninsured adults who meet a work or activity requirement will soon be eligible for Medicaid, with perhaps 50,000 added to the rolls within two years…And more than 350,000 very poor, uninsured Georgia adults still won’t meet Georgia’s requirements for Medicaid”
  • “At the same time, the 400,000 Georgians who bought individual health insurance plans on the federal healthcare.gov Affordable Care Act shopping website will find they can’t do that anymore. Instead they will be directed to contact information for private brokers or insurance companies”
These tweets were posted on 11/2/20.

Intracranial Hypertension & Papilledema with Alagille Syndrome

NM Rock et al. JPGN 2020; 71: 655-662. Intracranial Hypertension and Papilledema in a Large Cohort of Pediatric Patients With Alagille Syndrome

Key findings:

  • In this retrospective cohort of 69 patients, Nine (13.0%) had papilledema and Five (7.2%) had confirmed or probable intracranial hypertension. All five had undergone liver transplantation.
  • Age (in months) when intracranial hypertension was diagnosed: 35, 43, 55, 62, and 103.

Discussion Points:

  • “Cerbrovascular abnormalities, including moyamoya disease, are increasingly describe in patients with” Alagille syndrome.
  • “Opthalmic complications in relation with papilledema seem to appear mostly after” liver transplantation. This could indicate that LT/immunosuppression exaccerbate underlying disorder, that those who need LT have more severe phenotype or could be related to closer scrutiny (‘follow-up bias”).
  • First line treatment for intracranial hypertension in this group is generally acetazolamide.

My take: I agree with the authors who propose regular eye exams for patients with Alagille syndrome, especially if needing liver transplantation. Further evaluation is recommended for patients who have greater than mild papilledema. This includes MRI and lumbar opening pressure.

Related blog posts:

Sunrise -Isle of Palms

Potential Efficacy of Ondansetron for Irritable Bowel -More Studies Needed

A recent correspondence letter (CJ Black, AC Ford. AJG 2020; doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000000932. Full text: Efficacy of Ondansetron for Irritable Bowel Syndrome With Diarrhea) shows that ondansetron could be an effective option for irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea. Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference.

Kansas’ Mask Mandates for COVID-19

Link to full report:  Van Dyke ME, Rogers TM, Pevzner E, et al. Trends in County-Level COVID-19 Incidence in Counties With and Without a Mask Mandate — Kansas, June 1–August 23, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 20 November 2020. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6947e2.

“Kansas counties that had mask mandates in place appear to have mitigated the transmission of COVID-19, whereas counties that did not have mask mandates continued to experience increases in cases.”

Surviving Pediatric Intestinal Transplantation

AK Balla et al. JPGN 2020; 71: 617-623. Factors Associated With 5- and 10-Year Survival After Intestinal Transplantation in Infants and Children

Methods: Retrospective chart review of 86 patients transplanted between 2003 and 2013

Key findings:

  • Intestinal graft survival was 71% and 65% after 5 and 10 years, respectively
  • Five-year graft survival was attained in 79% of patients with a history of anatomic intestinal failure (n=63) compared with 45% with functional intestinal failure (n=22) (P = 0.0055).
  • In their cohort, graft-versus-host and post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease were 11 times greater and 8 times greater in the functional compared with anatomic intestinal failure group. “Severe functional gastrointestinal diseases are more likely to be component of inherited multisystem disorders not fully correctable with ITx (intestinal transplantation) alone.”
  • Graft survival depends on avoidance of severe infectious and immunological complications including GVHD, whereas inclusion of a liver graft provides no obvious survival benefit

My take: In this cohorts, intestinal transplantation outcomes have improved for anatomic intestinal failure but not for functional intestinal failure. “Reduced success with functional intestinal failure may reflect inherently increased susceptibility to complications in this group.”

IBD Update (November 2020)

W Reinisch et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 1562-1571.Full Text: Association of Biomarker Cutoffs and Endoscopic Outcomes in Crohn’s Disease: A Post Hoc Analysis From the CALM Study n=244.

  • The proportion of patients who achieved the primary end point CDEIS <4 and no deep ulcers was significantly greater for those with FC <250 µg/g (74%; P < 0.001)
  •  Fecal calprotectin <250 µg/g, CRP <5 mg/L, and CDAI <150 gave a sensitivity/specificity of 72%/63% and positive/negative predictive values of 86%/42% for CDEIS <4 and no deep ulcers 48 weeks after randomization

My take: Fecal calprotectin levels are useful for monitoring mucosal healing. Levels less than 250 are encouraging. Levels less than 100 are better.

Proportion of patients achieving mucosal healing (CDEIS <4) and no deep ulcers in (B) all patients by FC cutoff at week 48 after randomization

Related blog posts:

S Danese et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2526-2534. Full text link: Effects of Apremilast, an Oral Inhibitor of Phosphodiesterase 4, in a Randomized Trial of Patients With Active Ulcerative Colitis “We performed a double-blind, phase 2 trial of adults with active UC for 3 months or more who were naïve to biologic therapy or had been failed by, could not tolerate, or had contraindications to conventional therapies.” n=168. Key findings:

  • Clinical remission was achieved at week 12 by 31.6% of patients in the 30 mg apremilast group and 12.1% of patients in the placebo group (P = .01). However, only 21.8% of patients in the 40 mg apremilast group achieved clinical remission at week 12 (P = .27 compared with placebo)
  • At week 52, clinical remission was achieved by 40.4% of patients initially assigned to the apremilast 30 mg group and 32.7% of patients initially assigned to the apremilast 40 mg group.

X Zhuang et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1636-1647. Full text: Fecal Microbiota Alterations Associated With Clinical and Endoscopic Response to Infliximab Therapy in Crohn’s Disease

Methods: Microbiota was prospectively analyzed in 49 patients with active CD at baseline, week 6, and week 30

Key Findings:

  • Increased proportions of Lachnospiraceae and Blautia were associated with IFX efficacy; the combined increase of these taxa at week 6 showed 83.4% and 84.2% accuracy in predicting clinical response at weeks 14 and 30, respectively, with a predictive value of 89.1% in predicting endoscopic response at week 30
  • IFX diminished CD-related gut microbial dysbiosis by modifying microbiota composition and function

Histologic Healing and IBD Outcomes

Several recent studies recently evaluated outcomes based on histologic healing compared to endoscopic remission.

RK Pai et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2510-2517. Full text link: Complete Resolution of Mucosal Neutrophils Associates With Improved Long-Term Clinical Outcomes of Patients With Ulcerative Colitis n=281.Key findings:

  • “We found histologic evidence of UC activity (Geboes score ≥ 2B.1) in biopsies from 182 patients (65%) and endoscopic evidence of UC activity in 149 patients (53%) (substantial agreement, κ = 0.60).”
  • “Histologic features of UC activity were associated with increased rates of systemic corticosteroid use, colectomy, and hospitalization in the entire cohort (P < .05 for all) and associated with increased rates of systemic corticosteroid use in an analysis limited to patients in endoscopic remission (P < .001).”

B Christensen et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2518-2525. Full text link: Histologic Healing Is More Strongly Associated with Clinical Outcomes in Ileal Crohn’s Disease than Endoscopic Healing This was a a retrospective study of 101 patients with CD (52% male) isolated to the terminal ileum. Key findings:

  • At ileo-colonoscopy, 63% of patients had endoscopic healing and 55% had histologic evidence of healing. The level of agreement between endoscopic and histologic activity was fair (62%, K = 0.2250, P = .0064)
  • On multivariate analysis, only histologic healing was associated with decreased risk of clinical relapse (hazard ratio [HR], 2.05; 95% CI, 1.07–3.94; P = .031), medication escalation (HR, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.2–3.96; P = .011), and corticosteroid use (HR, 2.44; 95% CI, 1.17–5.09; P = .018).
Kaplan-Meier analysis of effect of endoscopic and histologic activity on (A) clinical relapse-free survival versus histologic healing, (B) clinical relapse-free survival versus endoscopic healing

D Kevans et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1722-1729. Histological Markers of Clinical Relapse in Endoscopically Quiescent Ulcerative Colitis Key finding: In endoscopically quiescent UC (n=76), active histological inflammation …[is] adjunctive histological marker associated with increased likelihood of disease relapse. The associated editorial (1730-32 by Asher Kornbluth) quotes Voltaire: “A wise Italian says that the best is the enemy of the good.” He notes that there is “a very real risk of abandoning an effective drug while chasing the goal of some yet to be universally defined histologic remission.” Currently organizational guidelines (ACG, AGA, ECCO, IOIBD) do NOT suggest the use of histologic normalization as an endpoint at this point.

My take: These studies show that histologic healing in ileal Crohn’s disease and in ulcerative colitis are associated with better outcomes that endoscopic appearance. However, there are a lot questions because many patients, possibly a majority, will not achieve histologic healing despite aggressive treatment. Related technical issues include how many biopsies are needed to assess histology and having a validated histologic assessment.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.