About gutsandgrowth

I am a pediatric gastroenterologist at GI Care for Kids (previously called CCDHC) in Atlanta, Georgia. The goal of my blog is to share some of my reading in my field more broadly. In addition, I wanted to provide my voice to a wide range of topics that often have inaccurate or incomplete information. Before starting this blog in 2011, I would tear out articles from journals and/or keep notes in a palm pilot. This blog helps provide an updated source of information that is easy to access and search, along with links to useful multimedia sources. I was born and raised in Chattanooga. After graduating from the University of Virginia, I attended Baylor College of Medicine. I completed residency and fellowship training at the University of Cincinnati at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center. I received funding from the National Institutes of Health for molecular biology research of the gastrointestinal tract. I have authored numerous publications/presentations including original research, case reports, review articles, and textbook chapters on various pediatric gastrointestinal problems. Currently, I am the chair of the section of nutrition for the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, I am an adjunct Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. Other society memberships have included the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Food Allergy Network, the American Gastroenterology Association, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. As part of a national pediatric GI organization called NASPGHAN (and its affiliated website GIKids) I have helped develop educational materials on a wide-range of gastrointestinal and liver diseases which are used across the country. Also, I have been an invited speaker for national campaigns to improve the evaluation and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, celiac disease, eosinophilic esophagitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Some information on these topics has been posted at my work website, www.gicareforkids.com, which has links to multiple other useful resources. I am fortunate to work at GI Care For Kids. Our group has 17 physicians with a wide range of subspecialization, including liver diseases, feeding disorders, eosinophilic diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, DiGeorge/22q, celiac disease, and motility disorders. Many of our physicians are recognized nationally for their achievements. For many families, more practical matters include the following: – 14 office/satellite locations – physicians who speak Spanish – cutting edge research – on-site nutritionists – on-site psychology support for abdominal pain and feeding disorders – participation in ImproveCareNow – office endoscopy suite (lower costs and easier scheduling) – office infusion center (lower costs and easier for families) – easy access to nursing advice (each physician has at least one nurse) I am married and have two sons. I like to read, walk/hike, exercise, swim, and play tennis with my free time as well as go to baseball games. I do not have any financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies or other financial relationships to disclose. I have participated in industry-sponsored research studies.

How Hepatitis C Therapy Affects Cardiovascular Outcomes

Briefly noted: A recent retrospective study (AA Butt et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 156: 987-96) utilized a Veterans HCV database (n=242,680) and determined that HCV therapy improved cardiovascular outcomes.

Key finding: Treatment with a direct-acting antiviral regimen lowered the risk of cardiovascular events by more than 40% (hazard ratio of 0.57) compared to no treatment.

This finding is limited based on the reliance of a retrospective study and not being able to control for factors that may have led some patients to not receive treatment.

Related blog posts:

Transient Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency or Misleading Tests?

A recent retrospective study (J Garah et al. JPGN 2019; 68: 574-77) showed that many cases of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, based on a low fecal elastase (<200), resolved over ~6 months.

Background:

  • 17 of 43 children had adequate data and no other recognized comorbidities which could explain low elastase levels
  • In these 17 children the median age was 3 years
  • Presenting symptoms were failure to thrive, or diarrhea. Children with known etiologies (eg. cystic fibrosis, Shwachman-Diamond, cholestatic liver disease) were excluded.
  • Median elastase at time of diagnosis was 71

Key findings:

  • Median time for normalization of elastase was 6 months. Patients received pancreatic supplements until elastase normalized.
  • 11 of the 17 had values of elastase <100, and an additional two had values of 105.
  • In all 17 children without identifiable underlying diseases, the pancreatic insufficiency was transient.
  • Only two children had fat soluble vitamin deficiency associated with pancreatic insufficiency

The article discusses the use of elastase for diagnosis of pancreatic insufficiency in comparison to more direct/invasive testing which can be difficult to perform.  It is important to recognize that elastase values are often unreliable in the presence of diarrhea or if diluted by urine.  Repeated assays may be needed to have confidence that elastase

My take: This report identifies “transient pancreatic insufficiency” as a frequent explanation for many children and may represent a postinfectious etiology. Thus, if no comorbidity is identified, the prognosis is favorable in most children.

Sculptured Cypress Trees in Retiro Park, Madrid

AGA Practice Guidelines for Celiac Disease

AGA Clinical Practice Update on Diagnosis and Monitoring of Celiac Disease—Changing Utility of Serology and Histologic Measures: Expert Review (S Husby et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 156: 885-89)

Best Practice Advice 1: Serology is a crucial component of the detection and diagnosis of CD, particularly tissue transglutaminase–immunoglobulin A (TG2-IgA), IgA testing, and less frequently, endomysial IgA testing.

Best Practice Advice 2: Thorough histological analysis of duodenal biopsies with Marsh classification, counting of lymphocytes per high-power field, and morphometry is important for diagnosis as well as for differential diagnosis.

Best Practice Advice 2a: TG2-IgA, at high levels (> ×10 upper normal limit) is a reliable and accurate test for diagnosing active CD. When such a strongly positive TG2-IgA is combined with a positive endomysial antibody in a second blood sample, the positive predictive value for CD is virtually 100%. In adults, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) and duodenal biopsies may then be performed for purposes of differential diagnosis.

Best Practice Advice 3: IgA deficiency is an infrequent but important explanation for why patients with CD may be negative on IgA isotype testing despite strong suspicion. Measuring total IgA levels, IgG deamidated gliadin antibody tests, and TG2-IgG testing in that circumstance is recommended.

Best Practice Advice 4: IgG isotype testing for TG2 antibody is not specific in the absence of IgA deficiency.

Best Practice Advice 5: In patients found to have CD first by intestinal biopsies, celiac-specific serology should be undertaken as a confirmatory test before initiation of a gluten-free diet (GFD).

Best Practice Advice 6: In patients in whom CD is strongly suspected in the face of negative biopsies, TG2-IgA should still be performed and, if positive, repeat biopsies might be considered either at that time or sometime in the future.

Best Practice Advice 7: Reduction or avoidance of gluten before diagnostic testing is discouraged, as it may reduce the sensitivity of both serology and biopsy testing.

Best Practice Advice 8: When patients have already started on a GFD before diagnosis, we suggest that the patient go back on a normal diet with 3 slices of wheat bread daily preferably for 1 to 3 months before repeat determination of TG2-IgA.

Best Practice Advice 9: Determination of HLA-DQ2/DQ8 has a limited role in the diagnosis of CD. Its value is largely related to its negative predictive value to rule out CD in patients who are seronegative in the face of histologic changes, in patients who did not have serologic confirmation at the time of diagnosis, and in those patients with a historic diagnosis of CD; especially as very young children before the introduction of celiac-specific serology.

Management

Best Practice Advice 10: Celiac serology has a guarded role in the detection of continued intestinal injury, in particular as to sensitivity, as negative serology in a treated patient does not guarantee that the intestinal mucosa has healed. Persistently positive serology usually indicates ongoing intestinal damage and gluten exposure. Follow-up serology should be performed 6 and 12 months after diagnosis, and yearly thereafter.

Tweet Updates: Nutrients Helpful in Foods Rather Than Supplements, More ID Doctors Needed

 

Yesterday’s post highlighted a study which indicated that low quality diets result in signiificant mortality.  The tweets below refer to a study which indicated that supplements generally do not help one achieve a good diet.  For a diet to be effective, the nutrients need to be present in the diet.

 

Bad Diets –>High Mortality

A recent article in Lancet (“Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017:
a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017″ -open access) estimated that bad diets lead to 11 million deaths per year. Thanks to Ana Ramirez for sending me this article. “High intake of sodium, low intake of whole grains, and low intake of fruits were the leading dietary risk factors for deaths and DALYs globally and in many countries.”

A summary of this study was reported on NPR: Bad Diets Are Responsible For More Deaths Than Smoking, Global Study Finds

An excerpt:

About 11 million deaths a year are linked to poor diet around the globe…

As part of a new study published in The Lancet, researchers analyzed the diets of people in 195 countries using survey data, as well as sales data and household expenditure data. Then they estimated the impact of poor diets on the risk of death from diseases including heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. (They also calculated the number of deaths related to other risk factors, such as smoking and drug use, at the global level.)…

“Generally, the countries that have a diet close to the Mediterranean diet, which has higher intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy oils [including olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish] are the countries where we see the lowest number of [diet-related] deaths,” …

What would happen if everyone around the globe began to eat a healthy diet, filling three-fourths of their plates with fruits, vegetables and whole grains? We’d run out…

Improving diets won’t be easy: A range of initiatives may be needed, including nutrition education and increased access to healthy foods, as well as rethinking agricultural production.

Related blog posts:

 

IBD Update April 2019

Briefly noted:

Link (from KT Park’s twitter feed): What New Treatments for Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis Are Being Developed?

R Wittig et al. JPGN 2019; 68: 244-50. This study from Germany, using health insurance data, identified an overall pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) incidence of 17.41 per 100,000 in 2012 compared to 13.65/100,000 in 2009.  This is one of the highest incidence rates reported and agrees with other data suggesting increasing rates of IBD in pediatric populations.

B Christensen et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 486-93.  This study provides data from 20 patients (CD =9, UC =11) who were treated with a combination of a calcineurin inhibitor and vedolizumab.  The calcineurin inhibitor was used as a ‘bridge’ treatment until the slower acting vedolizumab could be effective. After 52 weeks of treatment, 33% of the CD patients and 45% of the UC patients were in steroid-free clinical remission.  Three serious adverse events associated with calcineurin treatment.

G Pellet et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 494-501. Retrospective study of calcineurin inhibitor induction with vedolizumab in 39 patients with refractory ulcerative colitis (36 had failed anti-TNF Rx).  11 patients (28%) required colectomy. week 14 response and remission noted in 56% and 38% respectively. Four serious adverse events were observed.

N Nalagatla et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 494-501. In a retrospective study of 213 patients with steroid refractory acute severe ulcerative colitis, the authors did not find lower rates of colectomy in patients who received an accelerated infliximab dosing.  However, they were unable to control for confounding by disease severity. Patients who received an intial dose of 10 mg/kg had a lower colectomy rate than patients who received an initial dose of 5 mg/kg. Colectomy rates for accelerated vs standard infliximab dosing –in-hospital: 9% vs 8% respectively, at 3 months: 20% vs 14% respectively, at 12 months: 28% vs 27% respectively.

Related blog posts:

Shenandoah National Park

Helicobacter Pylori 2019 Review

A recent review (SE Crowe. NEJM 2019; 1158-65) provides a succinct summary of current H pylori management.

A couple of key points:

  • It is essential to test for cure after treatment 1 month afterwards
  • If retreatment is needed, use an alternative regimen
  • In the discussion of treatment, Dr. Crowe does NOT emphasize quadruple therapy except in individuals with a clarithromycin resistance probability of >25% (based on geographic incidence rates) or prior macrolide use.  She notes that in some populations that clarithromycin-based triple therapy had similar effectiveness as bismuth-based quadruple-based therapy.  Table 2 lists the 7 ACG approved treatment regimens.
  • It is noted that U.S. clarithromycin-resistance is between 21-30%.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  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.