“Esophageal Hypervigilance” and Outcomes in Eosinophilic Esophagitis

TH Taft et al. Gastroenterol 2021; 161: 1133-1144. Open Access: Esophageal Hypervigilance and Symptom-Specific Anxiety in Patients with Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Commentary: RD Naik, DA Patel. Gastroenterol 2021; 161: 1099-1110. Open Access: Unlocking the Mind Might Be Critical in Management of Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Expanding Beyond Drugs, Dilation, and Diet

Taft et al performed a retrospective study of 103 adult patients with eosinophilic esophagitis. Patients completed the following questionnaires immediately before to endoscopy:

  • Esophageal Hypervigilance and Anxiety Scale (EHAS)
  • Brief Esophageal Dysphagia Questionnaire (BEDQ)
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis Symptom Activity Index (EEsAI)
  • Northwestern Esophageal Quality of Life Scale (NEQOL).

Endoscopic severity of EoE was graded using the EoE Endoscopic Reference Score System (EREFS). Dysphagia was the primary symptom in 73% of the patients.

Key findings:

  • Patient’s symptom severity (via EEsAI or BEDQ) did not correlate with histology (distal or proximal peak eosinophil count), endoscopic severity of the disease (EREFS), or the distensibility index (measured via functional lumen imaging probe)
  • Symptom severity was correlated with the Esophageal Hypervigilance and Anxiety Scale (EHAS)
  • There was no correlation between EHAS and histologic activity, endoscopic severity (EREFS), or the presence of a stricture

The associated commentary emphasizes some of the study limitations including taking surveys prior to endoscopy (increased anxiety).

My take: This study indicates that with eosinophilic esophagitis, similar to other organic diseases (eg. IBD), patient symptoms do not always correlate with disease severity, and addressing the impact of anxiety and hypervigilance is critical, especially in refractory symptoms.

Figure 1 from commentary

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