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, hepatitis C, 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 18 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 (both adults). I like to read, walk/hike, bike, swim, and play tennis with my free time. I do not have any financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies or other financial relationships to disclose. I have participated in industry-sponsored research studies.

Combination Therapy for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

MA Buendia et al. JPGN Reports 3(4):p e273, 2022. DOI: 10.1097/PG9.0000000000000273. Relapse of Eosinophilic Esophagitis on Dupilumab

Yesterday’s post reviewed the landmark study leading to dupilumab’s FDA approval. Today’s case report shows that we have a lot we need to learn about its use.

The authors present a case report of a patient with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) who had ongoing active EoE while receiving topical steroids (TS) and PPI (and previously dietary elimination therapy). He achieved remission after the addition of dupilumab. “When his TS were weaned after achieving remission, his disease relapsed with worsening of his dysphagia and a peak eosinophilic count (PEC) of 55 eosinophils per high power field (eos/hpf). Upon restarting TS to his ongoing dupilumab, symptoms fully resolved, and he achieved histologic remission (PEC 10 eos/hpf).”

My take: This study indicates that there are some patients need dupilumab and topical steroids in combination, rather than monotherapy. Reliable biomarkers to more easily determine response and/or to predict optimal therapy are clearly needed.

Sunset at Siesta Key, FL

Landmark Dupilumab Study for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

ES Dellon et al. NEJM 2022; 387; 2317-2330. Dupilumab in Adults and Adolescents with Eosinophilic Esophagitis

This study was pivotal for receiving FDA approval of dupilumab (dupixent) for the treatment of EoE (the only FDA approved therapy). Background: “Dupilumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody, blocks interleukin-4 and interleukin-13 signaling, which have key roles in eosinophilic esophagitis..Standard-of-care treatments for eosinophilic esophagitis include food elimination diets, proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), swallowed topical glucocorticoids (applied to the esophagus by swallowing), and, in the case of strictures, esophageal dilation.11,12 However, the rates of response are variable (30 to 40% of patients may not have a response to first-line treatments).”

Key findings from three-part study (see images below):

  • Part A: Histologic remission occurred in 25 of 42 patients (60%) who received weekly dupilumab and in 2 of 39 patients (5%) who received placebo
  • Part B: Histologic remission occurred in 47 of 80 patients (59%) with weekly dupilumab, in 49 of 81 patients (60%) with dupilumab every 2 weeks, and in 5 of 79 patients (6%) with placebo 
  • Dysphagia Symptom Questionnaire (DSQ) scores:  the scores improved with weekly dupilumab as compared with placebo, with differences of –12.32 (95% CI, –19.11 to –5.54) in Part A and –9.92 (95% CI, –14.81 to –5.02) in Part B (both P<0.001) but not with dupilumab every 2 weeks (difference in Part B, –0.51; 95% CI, –5.42 to 4.41)
  • The most common adverse effect was injection site reactions. There were 10 serious adverse events; none of these “were considered by the trial investigators to be related to the trial regimen.”

In the associated commentary, (pg 2379-2380), Dr. Alex Straumann notes that since EoE is localized to the esophagus, whether a patients should be treated with a systemically acting medication, “particularly in light of the fact that topical glucocorticoids have been shown to be as efficacious as systemically acting prednisone.”

My take (borrowed in part from editorial): It remains unclear whether dupilumab “is better than the good old topical glucocorticoids in improving disease outcomes, particularly in light of considerable costs associated with this treatment.” Due to its cost (see below), dupillumab is likely best situated as a 2nd line treatment at this time for most patients.

Related blog posts:

Cost comparison (from Laura Targownwik on twitter):

ChatGPT Passes the Bar, an MBA exam, and Earns Medical License?

Related blog post: Have you tried out ChatGPT?

Besides cheating on essays for school, it is amazing what ChatGPT can do.

  1. It can pass the USMLE. MedPage Today: AI Passes U.S. Medical Licensing Exam
  2. It can pass the bar exam. ABA Journal: AI program earned passing bar exam scores on evidence and torts; can it work in court?
  3. It can pass an MBA exam, Fortune: ChatGPT passed a Wharton MBA exam and it’s still in its infancy. One professor is sounding the alarm
  4. It can write scientific abstracts: Nature: Abstracts written by ChatGPT fool scientists. Researchers cannot always differentiate between AI-generated and original abstracts

Other uses:

  • Food recipes -type ingredients you have at home, and ask it for a recipe
  • Explain complicated topics at age-appropriate levels
  • Travel itinerary (can specify if active vacation, with kids, specific goals)
  • Recommendation letters
  • Resumes
  • Lesson plans
  • Solve complex math problems in step-by-step fashion
  • Provide scientific/journal references
  • Write music in almost any genre
  • Write essays and develop ideas for novels
  • Provide personal advice
  • Create content in multiple languages
  • Medication appeal letters
  • Write or fix computer coding/software
  • Develop questions for speaker question and answers
  • Prep for interview

My take: Only George Santos can claim more accomplishments than ChatGPT (AI). It is important to verify the information that ChatGPT provides –it is sometimes wrong.

IBD Updates: Rising Burden of IBD, Calprotectin in Severe Colitis, Postoperative Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, Formula Choice for EEN

M Agrawal et al. Gastroenterol 2022; 163: 1547-1554. Open Access! The Rising Burden of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Denmark Over Two Decades: A Nationwide Cohort Study

Key findings:

  • Between 1995 and 2016, the incidence rate (95% confidence interval) per 100,000 person-years rose from 9.1 (8.3–10.0) to 17.8 (16.8–19.0) for CD, and from 21.0 (19.8–22.3) to 28.4 (27.0–29.8) for UC.
  • The highest increase in CD and UC incidence rates occurred in children and young adults, respectively.
  • The prevalence of IBD doubled from 1995 to 2016; the greatest increase (2.5-fold) was in UC prevalence among individuals aged >40 years. During this period, the median age of the IBD population increased by 6 to 7 years.

Y Pan et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2022; 28: 1865-1871. Utility of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring for Tumor Necrosis Factor Antagonists and Ustekinumab in Postoperative Crohn’s Disease

In this retrospective study (n=130), therapeutic drug levels in the postoperative period were associated with improved outcomes for anti-TNF agents (infliximab (IFX) or adalimumab (ADA) but NOT for ustekinumab (UST):

  • In patients with IFX ≥3 µg/mL, higher rates of deep remission (39% vs 0%; P = .02) existed compared with those with IFX less than 3 µg/mL. This was true for clinical remission (44% vs 9%; P = .04) and objective (83% vs 62%; P = .1) remission. 
  •  In patients with ADA ≥7.5 µg/mL, rates of deep (42% vs 0%; P = .02), clinical (42% vs 0%; P = .02), and objective (88% vs 40%; P = .007) remission were higher than patients with lower concentrations.
  • For UST, rates of deep (28% vs 17%; P = 1.0), clinical (33% vs 33%; P = 1.0), and objective (70% vs 67%; P = 1.0) remission were similar between patients regardless of drug concentration.

S Sasidharan et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2022; 28: 1833-1837. Fecal Calprotectin Is a Predictor of Need for Rescue Therapy in Hospitalized Severe Colitis

In this retrospective study (n=147), a fecal calprotectin >800 mcg/g independently predicted the need for inpatient medical rescue therapy (odds ratio, 2.61; 95% CI, 1.12-6.12). An admission calprotectin >800 mcg/g independently predicted surgery within 3 months (odds ratio, 2.88; 95% CI, 1.01-8.17). My take: This is the least surprising study I’ve read this past month —those with more severe colitis, based on calprotectin values, were more likely to need more intensive treatments.

R Dawson et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2022; 28: 1859-1864. Comparing Effectiveness of a Generic Oral Nutritional Supplement With Specialized Formula in the Treatment of Active Pediatric Crohn’s Disease

In this retrospective pediatric study (n=171), the authors found that a generic oral supplement (Fortsip) was as effective as a specialized formula (Modulen IBD) for enteral nutrition. “No difference was demonstrated in remission rate (Fortisip n = 67 of 106 [63%] vs Modulen IBD n = 41 of 64 [64%], P = .89), nonadherence rate (Fortisip n = 7 of 106 [7%] vs Modulen IBD 3 of 64 [5%], P = .57) or method of administration.” The main difference in outcome was a lower expense in the group receiving the generic formula. My take: This study is in agreement with previous studies.

Related blog posts:

Adalimumab Biosimilars on the Horizon (Finally) Plus Two Studies

GoodRx Health (Jan 3, 2023): Humira Biosimilar Boom: 8 Meds Launching in 2023 There are more than 17 billion reasons why there are 8 new adalimumab (Humira) biosimilars coming to the market.


1. Amjevita

Amjevita (adalimumab-atto) will be available in prefilled autoinjector pens (40 mg) and prefilled syringes (20 mg, 40 mg). Amjevita products will come in low-concentration forms, but they will be citrate-free. It’s expected to launch on January 31, 2023.

2. Cyltezo

Cyltezo (adalimumab-adbm) became the first biosimilar to be designated as interchangeable with HumiraInterchangeable biosimilars go through additional studies to determine whether you can switch back and forth between the biosimilar and the original product without issues. Biosimilars without this designation haven’t gone through these same studies. 

Cyltezo will only be available in a prefilled syringe and will come in two doses: 20 mg and 40 mg. Both are low-concentration forms and citrate-free. Cyltezo is expected to launch in the U.S. as early as July 1, 2023.

3. Hyrimoz

Hyrimoz (adalimumab-adaz): a 40 mg dose will be available in both a pen and a syringe. A 10 mg syringe will also be available. Both are low-concentration forms. These products contain citric acid, which is closely related to citrate. Citric acid can also make injections more painful. A citrate-free high-concentration form of Hyrimoz is currently under FDA review. Hyrimoz is expected to launch in the U.S. on September 30, 2023.

4. Hadlima

Hadlima (adalimumab-bwwd) will be available in both an autoinjector and a syringe in a 40 mg dose. And it will come in both low- and high-concentration forms. The high-concentration form will be citrate-free. Hadlima is expected to launch in the U.S. on or after July 1, 2023.

5. Abrilada

Abrilada (adalimumab-afzb) will be available in a prefilled pen (40 mg) and in a syringe (10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg). All Abrilada products will be low-concentration forms and citrate-free. Abrilada’s manufacturer has applied for interchangeable status with Humira. Abrilada is expected to launch in the U.S. as early as July 1, 2023.

6. Hulio

Hulio (adalimumab-fkjp) will be available in a prefilled pen (40 mg) and in a syringe (20 mg and 40 mg). All forms are low-concentration and citrate-free. Hulio is expected to launch in the U.S. on or after July 1, 2023.

7. Yusimry

Yusimry (adalimumab-aqvh) will only be available in a 40 mg prefilled syringe. It will be in a low-concentration form and citrate-free. Yusimry is expected to launch in the U.S. on or after July 1, 2023.

8. Idacio

Idacio (adalimumab-aacf) will be available in a 40 mg dose in both a pen and a syringe. Both forms will be low-concentration and citrate-free. Idacio is expected to launch in the U.S. as early as July 1, 2023.

My take: In high school, one of math teachers used to call me Hochman sub-1 and my twin brother Hochman sub-2. Perhaps, we can start designating biosimilars in a similar fashion?

Related blog posts:

Two other important studies I wanted to cite -both studies have Benjamin Gold, one of my better-known partners, as one of the authors:

  • KA Chien, C Thomas, V Cooley, T Weinstein, KF Murray, L Muir, C Hayes, BD Gold, LM Gerber, CG Sauer, G Tomer. JPGN 2023; 76: 25-32. Physician Burnout in Pediatric Gastroenterology In this survey with 408 responses (23% response rate), the authors found 29% reported high risk for emotional exhaustion, 18% reported high risk for depersonalization, and 33% reported overall burnout.
  • VC Cohran, BD Gold, DJ Spencer, CR Cole. JPGN 2022; 75: 689-691. Health Care Disparities in Gastroenterology: The Pediatric Gastroenterology Perspective This commentary reviewed survey results highlighting healthcare disparities which have been identified in IBD, NALFD, and liver transplantation. The authors outline some of the steps that NASPGHAN has taken as well as some of the work that is needed.

Quality Improvement: Fewer Xrays for Constipation

ME McSweeney et al. J Pediatr 2022; 251: 127-133. A Quality Improvement Initiative to Reduce Abdominal X-ray use in Pediatric Patients Presenting with Constipation

Key findings:

  • In total, 6723 patients completed new patient gastroenterology visits for a primary diagnosis of constipation between 2013 and 2019. Of these, 993 (14.8%) patients had abdominal radiographs taken within 24 hours of their initial visit. Over the 7 years of this project, a mean frequency of abdominal radiograph use decreased from 24% to less than 11%.
  •  No increases in subsequent emergency department visits or hospitalization for constipation within 30 days of patients’ initial visits were seen.
  • One of the keys to improvement was providing data to individual providers

The authors note that routine radiographs are NOT recommended by expert guidelines in patients presenting with functional constipation.

My take: The trend of using radiographs less frequently shows that a QI project can help avoid low value testing though more than 10% is still too high.

Related blog posts:

Unfavorable Trends in Reflux Management of Infants & Update on USNWR Rankings

T Achler et al. J Pediatr 2023; 252: 141-145. Trends and Correlates of Early-Life Exposure to Acid-Suppressant Therapy in Israel (2005-2020)

In this retrospective study from Israel with nearly 600,000 children, key findings:

  • The incidence rate of acid-suppressant medication use increased by 2.8-fold from 18.2 per 1000 in 2005 to 51.0 per 1000 in 2020
  • Primary care providers accounted for 74.8% of prescribing physicians in 2005 vs 96.1% in 2020, whereas the prevalence of prescribing gastroenterologists decreased from 18.8% to 2.8%
  • Other factors associated with increased use: first born child, male sex, multiple births and greater socioeconomic status; this latter group is more likely driven by health-seeking tendency rather than financial disparity due to national health insurance

Comments: This high use of acid suppression medications in infancy has been reported in multiple other studies despite the lack of efficacy in prior studies. Pediatricians, more than pediatric gastroenterologists, may be less familiar with the GERD guidelines and potential adverse effects of acid suppression (including association with an increase food allergies).

My take: This Israeli study shows that pediatric gastroenterologists are using acid blockers less in infants while pediatricians are using them more often. It is interesting that after the first child, parents are less likely to seek medical attention & are more tolerant of reflux symptoms.

Related blog posts:

Siesta Key, FL –what are the qualifications for driving a vehicle in FL?

Related blog post: U.S. News & World Report’s Flawed Rankings Plus One

Coming to a GI Clinic Near You? Intestinal Ultrasound for Ulcerative Colitis

F De Voogd, et al. Gastroenterol 2022; 163: 1569-1581. Intestinal Ultrasound Is Accurate to Determine Endoscopic Response and Remission in Patients With Moderate to Severe Ulcerative Colitis: A Longitudinal Prospective Cohort Study

27 patients with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis (UC) completed followup in this single-center, prospective, longitudinal cohort study. Key findings:

  • Bowel wall thickness (BWT) correlated with endoscopic Mayo score. “The most accurate cutoff for BWT was 2.8 mm for endoscopic remission, 3.9 mm for improvement, and a decrease of 32% for response.”

The associated editorial (C Palmela, C Maaster. Gastroenterol 2022; 163: 1485-1487. Open Access! The Use of Intestinal Ultrasound in Ulcerative Colitis-More Than a Mucosal Disease?) details other studies showing the utility of intestinal ultrasound, including the TRUST%UC study which enrolled 253 patients with UC. “. At baseline, 88.5% of patients had increased bowel wall thickness (BWT). Response to therapy could be detected as early as 2 weeks after initiation of therapy, as shown by reduction of abnormal BWT.” In anothre study with severe UC, “BWT reduction of >20% being an excellent predictor of response to intravenous steroids at 48 hours, as shown recently by Ivemark et al.10

The editorial notes that intestinal ultrasound “is often thought as being operator dependent. Nonetheless, several studies have shown an excellent inter-observer agreement in IUS, especially for the assessment of BWT,7,12 as was also found in this [De Voogd] study.” An additional finding in the De Voogd study was that the “the submucosa was the most thickened layer, and after 8 weeks of therapy it was also the most responsive layer;” thus, UC is not simply a mucosal disease.

My take: This study shows that with more widespread adoption, many UC patients could be followed non-invasively with intestinal ultrasound (and calprotectin).

Related blog post:

Brief Updates: H pylori Resistance Rates, VEDOKIDS, Increasing Bariatric Surgery in Kids

F Megraud et al. AJG 2022; doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000002045 Open Access: Rates of Antimicrobial Resistance in Helicobacter pylori Isolates From Clinical Trial Patients Across the US and Europe. Resistance rates were established in isolates from 907 participants. Overall, 22.2% were resistant to clarithromycin, 1.2% to amoxicillin, and 69.2% to metronidazole.

O Atia et al. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022; DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(22)00307-7. Outcomes, dosing, and predictors of vedolizumab treatment in children with inflammatory bowel disease (VEDOKIDS): a prospective, multicentre cohort study

Methods: VEDOKIDS was a paediatric, multicentre, prospective cohort study done in 17 centres in six countries. We report the 14-week outcomes as the first analyses of the planned 3-year follow-up of the VEDOKIDS cohort

Key findings:

  • 32 (42%) of 77 children with ulcerative colitis and 21 (32%) of 65 children with Crohn’s disease were in steroid-free and exclusive enteral nutrition-free remission at 14 weeks.
  •  In children who weighed less than 30 kg, the optimal drug concentration associated with steroid-free and exclusive enteral nutrition-free clinical remission was 7 μg/mL at week 14, corresponding to a dose of 200 mg/m2 body surface area or 10 mg/kg

USAToday 11/14/22: More teens are getting weight loss surgery but some experts think more needs to be done

And of course, an important story from The Onion: Arsonist Worried He Forgot To Turn Stove On Before Leaving House

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.

Coding Correctly in 2023

The following information was provided by our coding advisor, Mary Suhr.

Key points:

  1. Time codes (when used) for inpatient visits have changed (see below). In 2023, when you share a service with an APP, you may bill on patient medical decision making or time spent.  You can add the time together and whoever spends more total time on that date of service (including face to face and non-face to-face) gets to be the service provider for that charge. 
  2. Extra time code: 99418 for every 15 minutes increments above average inpatient code.
  3. Observation codes are obsolete.
  4. Specific requirements for documentation of History and Physical exam are NOT needed for coding. Good documentation is still important part of medical practice and for liability; patient still needs to be examined.
  5. ALL outpatient and inpatient E/M visits will be leveled using the same methodology.
  6. Coding is based on medical decision making or time code (whichever has higher complexity). When selecting a level of service for Medical Decision Making, there is still the concept of having three components/tables and the requirement that two of the three components are met.  Tables 1, 2, and 3 outline the requirements.
  7. CPT 99251 (Straightforward Inpatient Consult) and CPT 99241 (Straightforward Outpatient Consult) are going away because the history and exam requirements for consults no longer apply and history/exam was the only difference between level 1 and level 2 consultation codes.
  8. For consultations, you still need a requesting provider, a reason for the consult and a report back to the provider.  CMS was explicit this year that assuming care of the problem is not considered a consult.
  9. Consultations cannot be shared between two providers (e.g. physicians and APPs).  If a consultation is shared between an APP and a MD, our advisor recommends the use admission codes for those.  This is true for inpatient consultations as well as office-based consultations.

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.