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 vice 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 15 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.

In Case You Missed It: IBD Year in Review (Eric Benchimol)

I did not have the opportunity to hear this #NASPGHAN20 lecture but Dr. Benchimol has shared his slides. Link to Dropbox Slides: IBD Clinical Science: Year in Review

Some of the key points on slides (links to articles below):

Some screenshots:

Links to many of the referenced papers:


Related links:

“Leave Overweight Kids Alone”

Aubrey Gordon provides personal insight into the issue of weight stigma in her opinion piece: NY Times Leave Overweight Kids Alone

Here a few excepts:

The war on childhood obesity reached its zenith with the 2010 introduction of the national “Let’s Move!” campaign, “dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation.” It was a campaign against “childhood obesity” — not specific health conditions or the behaviors that may contribute to those health conditions. It wasn’t a campaign against foods with little nutritional value, or against the unchecked poverty that called for such low-cost, shelf-stable foods. It was a campaign against a body type — specifically, children’s body types.

In 2012, Georgia began its Strong4Life campaign aimed at reducing children’s weight and lowering the state’s national ranking: second in childhood obesity. Run by the pediatric hospital Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, it was inspired in part by a previous anti-meth campaign. Now, instead of targeting addiction in adults, the billboards targeted fatness in children…The billboards purported to warn parents of the danger of childhood fatness, but to many they appeared to be public ridicule of fat kids…

Despite ample federal and state funding, multiple national public health campaigns and a slew of television shows, the war on obesity does not appear to be lowering Americans’ B.M.I.s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 1999 there has been a 39 percent increase in adult obesity and a 33.1 percent increase in obesity among children.

Weight stigma kick-starts what for many will become lifelong cycles of shame..Yet, despite its demonstrated ineffectiveness, the so-called war on childhood obesity rages on. This holiday season, for the sake of children who are told You’re not beautiful. You’re indulging too much. Your body is wrong. You must have done it, I hope some parents will declare a cease-fire.

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Isle of Palms, SC

45 Years –The New Recommendation for Colorectal Cancer Screening

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Update on Upper GI Bleeding Recommendations

DK Mullady et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 159: 1120-1128. AGA Clinical Practice Update on Endoscopic Therapies for Non-Variceal Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding: Expert Review

Listed below are the 10 ‘Best Practice Advice’ recommendations. I think the acknowledgement that “hemostatic powder should be preferentially used as a rescue therapy and not for primary hemostasis, except in cases of malignant bleeding or massive bleeding with inability to perform thermal therapy or hemoclip placement” (#7) is very useful.

“Best Practice Advice:”
  • Endoscopic therapy should achieve hemostasis in the majority of patients with NVUGIB.
    • This may include clips, thermal (heater probes, bipolar/multipolar catheters, hemostatic forceps), diluted epinephrine injection, and hemostatic spray
  • Initial management of the patient with NVUGIB should focus on resuscitation, triage, and preparation for upper endoscopy. After stabilization, patients with NVUGIB should undergo endoscopy with endoscopic treatment of sites with active bleeding or high-risk stigmata for rebleeding.
  • Endoscopists should be familiar with the indications, efficacy, and limitations of currently available tools and techniques for endoscopic hemostasis, and be comfortable applying conventional thermal therapy and placing hemoclips.
  • Monopolar hemostatic forceps with low-voltage coagulation can be an effective alternative to other mechanical and thermal treatments for NVUGIB, particularly for ulcers in difficult locations or those with a rigid and fibrotic base.
  • Hemostasis using an over-the-scope clip should be considered in select patients with NVUGIB, in whom conventional electrosurgical coagulation and hemostatic clips are unsuccessful or predicted to be ineffective.
  • Hemostatic powders are a noncontact endoscopic option that may be considered in cases of massive bleeding with poor visualization, for salvage therapy, and for diffuse bleeding from malignancy.
  • Hemostatic powder should be preferentially used as a rescue therapy and not for primary hemostasis, except in cases of malignant bleeding or massive bleeding with inability to perform thermal therapy or hemoclip placement.
  • Endoscopists should understand the risk of bleeding from therapeutic endoscopic interventions (eg, endoluminal resection and endoscopic sphincterotomy) and be familiar with the endoscopic tools and techniques to treat intraprocedural bleeding and minimize the risk of delayed bleeding.
  • In patients with endoscopically refractory NVUGIB, the etiology of bleeding (peptic ulcer disease, unknown source, post surgical); patient factors (hemodynamic instability, coagulopathy, multi-organ failure, surgical history); risk of rebleeding; and potential adverse events should be taken into consideration when deciding on a case-by-case basis between transcatheter arterial embolization and surgery.
  • Prophylactic transcatheter arterial embolization of high-risk ulcers after successful endoscopic therapy is not encouraged.

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Operation Warp Speed Strategy

M Slaoui, M Hepburn. NEJM 2020; 383: 1701-1703. Full text: Developing Safe and Effective Covid Vaccines — Operation Warp Speed’s Strategy and Approach

As an aside, I have always thought that the name, “Operation Warp Speed,” sounded like a line from the movie Spaceballs.

This article provides insight into the strategy for “Operation Warp Speed” (OWS). An excerpt:

OWS’s strategy relies on a few key principles. First, we sought to build a diverse project portfolio that includes two vaccine candidates based on each of the four platform technologies…In addition, advancing eight vaccines in parallel will increase the chances of delivering 300 million doses in the first half of 2021…

Of the eight vaccines in OWS’s portfolio, six have been announced and partnerships executed with the companies: Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech (both mRNA), AstraZeneca and Janssen (both replication-defective live-vector), and Novavax and Sanofi/GSK (both recombinant-subunit-adjuvanted protein). These candidates cover three of the four platform technologies and are currently in clinical trials. The remaining two candidates will enter trials soon...

No scientific enterprise could guarantee success by January 2021, but the strategic decisions and choices we’ve made, the support the government has provided, and the accomplishments to date make us optimistic that we will succeed in this unprecedented endeavor.

Related article:

NY Times (11/9/20): Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective

Small Study: Kiwi For Constipation

Healio Gastroenterology: Kiwi fruit effective, well tolerated in treating chronic constipation

From a randomized (Virtual) ACG 2020 study from Samuel W. Chey and colleagues (University of Michigan), n=79 adults:

  • “All three treatments improved complete spontaneous bowel movement (P .003). Prunes demonstrated the largest magnitude of response at 67% vs. 64% for psyllium vs. 45% for Kiwi fruit”
  • “The highest proportion of participants – 68% – reported treatment satisfaction with kiwifruit while similar proportions of those receiving prunes and psyllium – 48% – reported satisfaction”
  • “The kiwi group had the lowest proportion of participants reporting treatment dissatisfaction at 7%….Participants receiving prunes and psyllium were more likely to report abdominal pain and bloating than those receiving kiwi”

How Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis Alters Outcomes in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

PJ Trivedi et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 159: 915-928. Effects of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis on Risks of Cancer and Death in People With Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Based on Sex, Race, and Age

Methods: The authors linked prospectively collected data from national health care registries maintained for all adults in England on hospital attendances, imaging and endoscopic evaluations, surgical procedures, cancer, and deaths.

Key findings:

  • Over 10 years, we identified 284,560 incident cases of IBD nationwide; of these, 2588 patients developed PSC. This study excluded patients <18 years of age.
  • Development of PSC was associated with increased risk of death and CRC (hazard ratios [HRs], 3.20 and 2.43, respectively; P < .001) and a lower median age at CRC diagnosis (59 y vs 69 y without PSC; P < .001)
  • Compared to patients with IBD alone, patients with PSC-IBD had a 4-fold higher risk of CRC if they received a diagnosis of IBD at an age younger than 40 years
  • Development of PSC also increased risks of cholangiocarcinoma (HR, 28.46), hepatocellular carcinoma (HR, 21.00), pancreatic cancer (HR, 5.26), and gallbladder cancer (HR, 9.19) ( P < .001 for all)
  • The greatest difference in mortality between the PSC-IBD alone group vs the IBD alone group was for patients younger than 40 years
  • Patients with PSC-UC had >40% risk of colonic resection compared to patients with IBD alone (aHR 1.65)

My take: This study shows the impact the added diagnosis of PSC has for patients with IBD. One of the limitations in assessing outcomes is determining whether someone with IBD has PSC as there are a lot of patients with IBD who have asymptomatic changes in their biliary tree.

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Should We Be Screening for Eating Disorders in Teenagers with Constipation?

HB Murray et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2471-2478. Frequency of Eating Disorder Pathology Among Patients With Chronic Constipation and Contribution of Gastrointestinal-Specific Anxiety

Key findings:

  • In an analysis (n= 279 adults, 70% female, average age 47 years) of patients with chronic constipation at a tertiary center who were referred for anorectal manometry, 19% had symptoms consistent with an eating disorder; this assessment was based on the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26).
  • “Gastrointestinal-specific anxiety fully mediated the relationship between the severity of ED pathology and constipation (standardized β, 0.11–0.16; P = .026–.024).”

The authors note that screening for eating disorders “is of particular importance before prescribing dietary interventions.”

My take: While this was a study with adults, it is likely that chronic constipation may be a presenting feature of an eating disorder in teenagers as well.

“Surprise Billing for Colonoscopy: The Scope of the Problem”

JM Scheiman et al. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2020; https://doi.org/10.7326/M20-2928. Surprise Billing for Colonoscopy: The Scope of the Problem

Background: “Federal law eliminates consumer cost sharing for multiple methods of colorectal cancer screening, including colonoscopy when done by an in-network provider. However, some patients having screening incur considerable out-of-pocket costs because out-of-network bills are not included in federal mandates. “Surprise billing” articles are widespread in the research literature and lay press . To date, the frequency of unexpected patient costs for screening colonoscopy have yet to be rigorously quantified.”

This study with ~983,000 procedures, which was conducted between 2012-2017, shows that it is common to get additional charges from a screening colonoscopy (which is supposed to be covered). Despite using an in-network physician, these charges can be due to “out-of-network” costs from anesthesia or pathology. This can also occur when anesthesia bills the colonoscopy as a diagnostic procedure rather than as a screening procedure.

From Annals of Internal Medicine Twitter Feed

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