NASPGHAN Toolbox App -Review

To all my colleagues and to others who follow this blog, I wish you a happy new year.  Thank you to all of you, especially to those who provide feedback to help improve the content and usefulness.

Recently NASPGHAN released an App, titled NASPGHAN Toolbox.  There are some very useful features but also some areas where more work is needed.

Work in progress: Many of the algorithms that are listed are dated and no longer accurate.  To list a few examples:

  • The UC Algorithm suggests holding off on anti-TNF therapy in severe disease for 7-14 days
  • The EoE Algorithm lists only diet treatments and topical steroids and does not list PPIs as a treatment option
  • The GERD guidelines are from 2001 rather than more recent recommendations

Also, this ‘algorithms’ section should probably be renamed into ‘algorithms and tables’ as a large amount of the information is not algorithmic.

What I Like:

  • Scores and Calculators for items like MELD score, PUCAI score, Mayo score
  • Extensive patient education handouts and image atlas -this could facilitate “airdrop”ing or messaging of these items to families.  (To be picky –the normal esophagus image could be better)
  • Formula charts –though the lists for infants and older children could be more comprehensive
  • Bristol charts (especially children version) -listed in algorithm section

My take: This is a very good start and a very helpful toolbox for pediatric gastroenterologists but I would not rely on the algorithms.


My Favorite Posts from the Past Year

Recently, I listed the posts that had the most views in the past year –some dating back to 2012.  The following list includes less viewed but some of my favorite posts from 2018:





Flowers in Calgary

Most Popular Posts 2011-2018

Since this blog’s inception, there are now more than 2500 posts; these are the most popular (most views):

Most of these posts are referenced in more recent posts on the same or similar subjects.

Near Banff


Most Popular GutsandGrowth Posts from Past Year

These five posts were the most popular (most views) in the past year:

This is a bike path from Canmore to Banff. I had a chance to ride an electric bike which was a lot of fun.

Rolling Back School Lunch Standards

NY Times: Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Rules for School Lunches

An excerpt for 12/8/18:

This week, the United States Department of Agriculture announced its final plans to lower nutrition standards for grains, flavored milks and sodium in school cafeterias that were part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 …

The Obama-era rules required that schools must serve entirely “whole grain-rich” foods, meaning that the product — whether it is pizza, pasta or hamburger buns — must contain at least 50 percent whole grains…Under the new rules, only half of the grain products on the cafeteria’s weekly menu must be whole grain-rich….

It was unclear why the Trump administration would backtrack when schools were in good standing with the nutritional goals… more than 99 percent of schools in the country reported that they were meeting the Obama-era standards…

“It seems like a small thing,” she said. “But the behavioral research shows you have to offer nutritious food to kids over and over and be consistent.”

Related blog posts:

Evidence-Based IBS Treatment Recommendations from ACG

A recent  American College of Gastroenterology Task Force conducted a systematic review (AC Ford et al. The American Journal of Gastroenterology 2018;113:1–18 ) to update management recommendations for irritable bowel syndrome -Link:

American College of Gastroenterology Monograph on Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The highlights of this report are summarized at Gastroenterology & Hepatoloy: Highlights of the Updated Evidence-Based IBS Treatment Monograph

A few excerpts:

“There have been numerous studies performed on the roles of diet and dietary manipulation in IBS. Three fairly firm conclusions were made following the review of these studies: (1) the low–fermentable oligosaccharide, disaccharide, monosaccharide, and polyol (FODMAP) diet seems to be effective for overall IBS symptom improvement; (2) a gluten-free diet is not effective for symptom improvement; and (3) conducting tests to detect various types of allergies or intolerances in order to base a diet on those results does not appear to be effective. Of these 3 conclusions, the most impressive data that came out of the research was the evidence for the low-FODMAP diet. Not only were there more studies on this diet, but the results were fairly consistent and favorable, at least for the short-term management of IBS.”

” We did not find evidence supporting the idea that prebiotics and synbiotics were effective in IBS management… In ­contrast, studies demonstrated that probiotics did improve global gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as the individual symptoms of bloating and flatulence in patients with IBS. However, determining which probiotic is best was difficult”

“Three prosecretory agents are available: linaclotide (Linzess, Allergan/Ironwood Pharmaceuticals), lubiprostone (Amitiza, Takeda), and plecanatide (Trulance, Synergy Pharmaceuticals), with plecanatide being the most recently approved agent. All 3 of these agents had convincing data to support their use in patients with constipation-predominant IBS

My take: In IBS patients, if dietary therapy is recommended, current evidence favors a low FODMAP diet rather than a gluten-free diet.

Related blog posts:

near Banff

Image above -Parker Ridge Trail

TARGET Study: Does Energy-Dense Nutrition Improve Outcomes in the Critically Ill

A recent double-blind randomized study (NEJM 2018; 379: 1823-44) examined the outcomes of 3957 adult patients undergoing mechanical ventilation who received either a 1.5 kcal formula or 1.0 kcal formula for provision of enteral nutrition.

Key Findings:

  • While the volume of formula was similar, the 1.5 kcal group received a mean of 1863 kcal/day compared to 1262 kcal/day for the 1.0 kcal group.
  • Yet, this did not translate into a survival benefit.  By day 90, 26.8% of the 1.5 kcal group had died compared with 25.7% of the 1.0 kcal group (RR 1.05, 95% CI 0.94-1.16, P=0.41)
  • Higher caloric delivery did not affect survival, receipt of organ support, duration of hospital stay, the incidence of infective complications or adverse events.
  • Regurgitation was more common in the 1.5 kcal group: 18.9% vs 15.7%, RR 1.20, 95% CI 1.05-1.38)
  • The 1.5 kcal group were more likely to receive promotility medications (47.4% vs 39.6%, RR 1.20)
  • The 1.5 kcal group were more likely to receive insulin (55.8% vs 49.0%, RR 1.14)

In their discussion, the authors note that only 2% of patients had a BMI less than 18.5; thus, their cohort is unable to determine whether these patients could benefit from increased calories.

My take (borrowed in part from authors): “Increasing energy intake with the administration of energy-dense enteral nutrition did not affect survival among critically ill adults.” These types of studies are important in challenging assumptions that meeting calorie needs (with enteral or parenteral nutrition) will improve outcomes in hospitalized patients–though, this may be true in some populations.

Related blog posts: