The Eosinophilic Esophagitis Diagnostic Cup is Half Empty with the Esophageal Sponge

JA Alexander et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2023; 21: 299-306. Open Access! Use of the Esophageal Sponge in Directing Food Reintroduction in Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Methods: In this prospective non-blinded trial, 22 responders to 6-food elimination diets underwent sequential food reintroduction guided by esophageal sponge cytology

Key findings:

  • At the post food reintroduction evaluation, sponge cytology and biopsy histology were in agreement in 59% (13/22) of cases using a cutoff of <15 eos/hpf and 68% (15/22) of cases using a cutoff of <6 eos/hpf. With the cutoff of <15 eos/hpf, the median absolute difference was 38 eos/hpf.
  • Interestingly, the authors noted a high rate (23%) of dietary responders who had dietary reintroduction without a dietary trigger being identified; this is possibly related in part to lower sponge sensitivity, and possibly due to a short food reintroduction period of 2 weeks prior to testing.

The authors in their discussion note that it is unclear whether the values from the sponge or from the biopsy is more reliable.

My take: This is a disappointment for those of us waiting for a reliable non-invasive measure of EoE activity. Those with abnormal sponge results are fairly likely to have abnormal endoscopy; however, many of those with normal values with sponge testing are likely to have active EoE.

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