VTE Protocol for Hospitalized Kids with IBD

Tucson Botanical Gardens

LG Hamant et al JPGN 2023; 76: 610-615. Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients Hospitalized With a Central Line

This article reviews the results of a venous thromboembolism (VTE) protocol that was implemented in 2018 in children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A total of 313 hospitalizations across 187 different patients were identified that met criteria including IBD and central venous access. This retrospective review focused on children with IBD and and central venous catheter (CVC)  Key findings:

  • VTE prophylaxis increased from 5.24% (n = 12) prior to the intervention to 63.10% (n = 53) after the intervention
  • Rate of Doppler US increased from 9.17% (n = 21) prior to the intervention to 17.86% (n = 15) after the intervention
  • Diagnosis of VTE increased from 0.87% (n = 2) prior to the intervention to 7.14% (n = 6) after the intervention (attributed to better detection)

This article provides an algorithm for implementing VTE prophylaxis, recommending prophylaxis if 2 or more risk factors –both IBD and CVCs are risk factors. Mechanical prophylaxis (along with frequent ambulation, if feasible) is generally recommended if there are at least 2 risk factors, whereas anticoagulation prophylaxis is generally recommended if there are at least 4 risk factors. Other risk factors include being post-pubertal, obese, prolonged surgery (>90 minutes) within 2 weeks, altered mobility, and mechanical ventilation (see full protocol in article).

My take: In children at increased risk, the approach to reducing VTE in this article is quite sensible. Nevertheless, more research, especially with regard to institution of anticoagulation, is needed.

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.

When Will Intestinal Ultrasound for IBD Become Practical?

M Allocca et al. Gastroenterol 2023; 164: 851-855. Open Access! Intestinal Ultrasound in the Assessment and Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Is It Ready for Standard Practice?

This short article outlines the indications, availability, technical skills, cost-effectiveness and potential value of intestinal ultrasound (IUS). Some key points:

  • Goal: “IUS is used as a first-line investigation and can avoid or delay the need for more invasive and expensive testing (CT, MRI, or colonoscopy). Thus, costs are minimized and patient convenience is optimized”
  • Availability: “IUS is quite widespread in many European countries, but its uptake has been significantly less in other parts of the world, including the United States. Limitations to its use include the absence of standardized and reproducible protocols, lack of local expertise, and the perception that IUS is an operator-dependent tool, feasible only by highly experienced operators. In reality, however,…. studies specifically addressing sonographer variability demonstrate substantial agreement for color Doppler signals and almost perfect agreement for bowel-wall thickness, as the most relevant IUS parameter.”
  • Expertise: Trainees “have to perform at least 300 supervised ultrasound examinations in Italy and 400 in Germany to achieve full competency…It is believed that learners can achieve competency in IUS after approximately 200 supervised examinations, but it is important to acknowledge that a formal learning curve and the criteria for competency assessment have not yet been fully defined”

My take: Despite all the interest in this useful point-of-care tool, for IUS to become more widespread in the U.S. it will need to be incorporated in training programs. The threshold for competency is not achievable with a weekend seminar. It will be interesting to see how this test affects cost, management, and outcomes. Will it reduce or increase other cross sectional imaging testing? Is the information from IUS more useful than a calprotectin (stool biomarker) which could also be a point-of-care test?

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The Oro Valley/Tucson Loop shared use bike path extends over 130 car free miles throughout unincorporated Pima County, Marana, Oro Valley, and Tucson.

Durability of Biologics in Children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

JL Kaplan et al. JPGN 2023; 76: 567-575. Open Access! Use, Durability, and Risks for Discontinuation of Initial and Subsequent Biologics in a Large Pediatric-Onset IBD Cohort

Methods: The authors analyzed pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) data from the ImproveCareNow Network registry (n= 17,649) between May 2006 and September 2016, including time to biologic initiation, choice of first subsequent biologics, biologic durability, and reasons for discontinuation

Key findings:

  • 7585 (43%) were treated with a biologic agent before age 18. 50% of children with Crohn’s disease (CD) received a biologic compared to 25% of children with ulcerative colitis (UC)
  • First biologic agents for all patients were anti-tumor necrosis factor agents (88% infliximab, 12% adalimumab)
  • Probability of remaining on first biologic in patients with CD: 93% at 6 months, 85% at 12 months, 79% at 24 months, and 74% at 36 months
  • Probability of remaining on first biologic in patients with UC: 84% at 6 months, 75% at 12 months, 66% at 24 months, and 55% at 36 months
  • First biologics were discontinued because of loss of response (39%), intolerance (23%), and nonresponse (19%).

My take: This is an important study that shows that anti-TNF therapy durability was 79% in patients with CD and 66% in patients with UC at 2 years. This pediatric-specific information will help with counseling families when starting biologic therapy. There was improvement in durability after 2013 compared to prior -so perhaps perhaps even better durability is occurring in 2023. It is a little ironic that this study is from ImproveCareNow given that the results are quite dated. There have been a lot of changes in the last seven years. These include the widespread use of dose optimization/therapeutic drug levels and the approval of several new classes of targeted medications.

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Tucson Botanical Gardens

Landmark Study: Oral Biologic for Crohn’s –Upadacitinib

EV Loftus et al. N Engl J Med 2023; 388:1966-1980. Upadacitinib Induction and Maintenance Therapy for Crohn’s Disease

This study is the basis for the FDA’s approval of updacitnib (Rinvoq) for Crohn’s disease in adults: New FDA Rinvoq (upadacitinib) Indication: Oral Treatment For Crohn’s

This publication describes the results of two multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled induction trials (n=1021 adults,U-EXCEL, U-ECEED) and one maintenance trial (n=502, U-ENDURE) with Upadacitinib (Rinvoq). The induction trials involved an early mandatory glucocorticoid taper.

Key findings:

  • A significantly higher percentage of patients who received 45-mg upadacitinib than those who received placebo had clinical remission (in U-EXCEL, 49.5% vs. 29.1%; in U-EXCEED, 38.9% vs. 21.1%) and an endoscopic response (in U-EXCEL, 45.5% vs. 13.1%; in U-EXCEED, 34.6% vs. 3.5%) (P<0.001 for all comparisons).
  • There was a rapid onset of action with a difference in clinical response compared to placebo at 2 weeks
  • Maintenance Trial of clinical responders: At week 52 in U-ENDURE, a higher percentage of patients had clinical remission with 15-mg upadacitinib (37.3%) or 30-mg upadacitinib (47.6%) than with placebo (15.1%), and a higher percentage had an endoscopic response with 15-mg upadacitinib (27.6%) or 30-mg upadacitinib (40.1%) than with placebo (7.3%) (P<0.001 for all comparisons).
  • Adverse effects included gastrointestinal perforations (6 in study medication, 1 in placebo), neutropenia in up to 2.6%, and increased Herpes Zoster infections in patients receiving study medication (1.5% to 3%).

A good commentary of this study is in the same issue: M Abreu. N Engl J Med 2023; 388:2005-2009. It is noted that upadacitinib showed a good response even though a different JAK inhibitor, tofacitinib, had disappointing results for patients with Crohn’s disease. Other points:

  • “It is hard to compare findings across studies because of differences in the characteristics of patients and end points. That being said, the incidences of clinical remission observed by Loftus et al. were greater than those observed in most studies of biologic drugs to treat Crohn’s disease. Moreover, upadacitinib was more likely than placebo to resolve extraintestinal manifestations.”
  • “They did not find evidence of cardiovascular or thromboembolic complications, which were previously observed in patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with tofacitinib and which led to a black-box warning.10 However, the treatment of greater numbers of patients for a longer duration will be required to determine whether upadacitinib is asssociated with a risk of such complications.”
  • “Among the most common upadacitinib-specific adverse events were anemia [6.9%] and acne [6.3%]. The increase in anemia may be due to off-target effects of upadacitinib on erythropoietin signaling through JAK2.”

My take: This is great news for patients with Crohn’s disease. In addition to having a new option for refractory disease, this option does not require IV administration. When will pediatric data be available?

How Does Bowel Ultrasound Stack Up to MRE for Crohn’s Disease?

A Rispo et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2023; 29: 563-569. David Against Goliath: Direct Comparison of Handheld Bowel Sonography and Magnetic Resonance Enterography for Diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease

Lately, there has been a lot of ‘buzz’ about the potential use of point-of-care bowel sonography (aka intestinal ultrasound). This study (2019-2021) prospectively enrolled patients with a high likelihood of Crohn’s disease (CD) and compared handheld bowel sonography (HHBS), MRE (all patients, n=85, had ileocolonoscopy)

Key findings:

  • Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive values, and negative predictive values for CD diagnosis were 87.50%, 91.89%, 93.33%, and 85% for HHBS; and 91.67%, 94.59%, 95.65%, and 89.74% for MRE, without significant differences in terms of diagnostic accuracy (89.41% for HHBS vs 92.94% for MRE, P = NS)
  • Magnetic resonance enterography was superior to HHBS in defining CD extension (r = 0.67; P < .01) with a better diagnostic performance than HHBS for detecting location (k = 0.81; P < .01), strictures (k = 0.75; P < .01), abscesses (k = 0.68; P < .01), and fistulas (k = 0.65; P < .01).

My take: In this study, MRE was clearly superior at defining CD complications. This study suggests that HHBS could be an effective screening tool but is not likely a definitive imaging study. In terms of bedside monitoring, it would be helpful to see how clinical monitoring with HBSS compares with a highly sensitive marker like a calprotectin. I also worry that HBSS could perform more poorly with more widespread application due to potential increase in operator error.

Measurement of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in IBD and the Real-World

J Fernandez et al. JPGN 2023; 76: 475-479. Prevalence of Exocrine Pancreatic Dysfunction Based on Direct Function Testing in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Methods: Direct stimulated endoscopic pancreatic function test (ePFT) was performed in 74 children with IBD

Key findings:

  • 42 (56.7%) children had either generalized or partial exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). 
  • Weight z scores were significantly lower in those with abnormal ePFT (Crohn cases: P = 0.008; UC cases: P = 0.046). 

In their discussion, the authors assert: “We can confidently recommend ePFT in established or new IBD patients who have stricturing and/or penetrating CD, weight loss, low weight Z-score, or qualify for the diagnosis of malnutrition.”

My take: In my real-world experience (~30 years), I have yet to have one patient presenting with IBD who needed pancreatic enzyme supplementation to reverse growth failure/malnutrition. As a consequence, I have a difficult time accepting the premise that more than 50% have EPI. To me, this suggests that testing children when they are acutely-ill or malnourished is yielding unreliable results.

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Tumamoc Hill, Tucson AZ

Isolated Ileitis in Children

A Alper et al. JPGN 2023; 76: 338-342. Isolated Terminal Ileitis in Children

This single center retrospective study reviewed 640 colonoscopies in symptomatic children.

Key findings:

  • Thirty-three children had isolated histologically-defined terminal ileitis. Seventeen children were diagnosed with CD and 18 children had idiopathic terminal ileitis (3 lost to followup)
  • Children with CD had higher prevalence of abnormal C-reactive protein levels, severe inflammation, and radiological evidence of bowel wall thickening compared with children with idiopathic ileitis.
  • Two children with idiopathic ileitis were later diagnosed with CD; the remaining 13 did not develop CD over a follow-up period of 83 months.
  • From the data presented, it appeared that the center had a low rate of ileal intubation (316 colonoscopies were excluded for this reason)
  • 75% of those with histologic ileitis had normal endoscopic appearance

When our group looked at colonoscopies (n=374) in our outpatient endoscopy center, we identified isolated ileitis in 10% (6% grossly abnormal, 4% with only histologically abnormal) (related blog post: Our Study: Provider Level Variability in Colonoscopy Yield). Higher rates of ileal intubation (90% in our study) should be considered a quality metric given that 5-10% of children may have disease isolated in ileum.

My take: This study provides reassurance that most children with histologic ileitis will not progress to CD if the ileum is visually-normal (in the absence of abnormal blood tests and/or imaging).

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Chattahoochee River, Sandy Springs, GA

IBD Updates: Low Lymphoma Risk, Fewer Biopsies for Ulcerative Colitis, MRE Distinguishes Backwash Ileitis, Beta-Fructans and IBD Activity

M Egberg et al. AJC 2023: 118: 354-359. Low Risk of Lymphoma in Pediatric Patients Treated for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Key finding:

  • Using a database with 10,777 pediatric patients (2007-2018) with more than 28,000 patient years, there were 5 lymphomas reported. 4 had received thiopurines and none received anti-TNF monotherapy.

My take: This is a very reassuring study for the safety of anti-TNF agents.

AE Mikolajczyk et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2023; 29: 222-227. Assessment of the Degree of Variation of Histologic Inflammation in Ulcerative Colitis

  • In this retrospective study with 92 patients (182 colonoscopies), the authors found “minimal variability between degree of inflammation among biopsy fragments within and among different colorectal segments in UC, suggesting that even a single biopsy would adequately reflect the inflammation of the entire colorectum.”

My take: This study suggests that taking biopsies from every segment of the colon (when it looks uniform) is usually not needed, unless the purpose is to look for dysplasia. Also, it is worth recognizing that individuals with primary sclerosing cholangitis often have greater histologic activity in the right colon.

References only:

Another Study Justifying Higher Infliximab Dosing in Pediatrics

S Lawrence et al. JPGN 2022; 75: 601-607. Optimized Infliximab Induction Predicts Better Long-Term Clinical and Biomarker Outcomes Compared to Standard Induction Dosing

In this retrospective observational cohort study (n=140 children), patients were started on 5 mg/kg/dose during induction. 78 children had “optimized dosing” with an infliximab level drawn prior to 3rd dose. A level <15 mcg/g was considered subtherapeutic. It is noted that combination therapy was much higher in the standard (not optimized) group (95% vs 42%).

Key findings:

  • Combined corticosteroid-free clinical and biomarker remission (CRP < 5 mg/L) was higher in the optimized compared to the standard cohort [65/78 (83%) vs 25/62 (40%), P < 0.001]. Remission rates correlated with trough levels; those in clinical remission had a median level of 3.6 compared to 2.0 in those without clinical remission.
  • The median post-induction trough was higher in the optimized group 4.2 mg/L vs 1.9 mg/L.
  • The optimized group were significantly more likely to achieve a therapeutic level (5 mg/L or greater): 44% vs 18%.

My take:

  1. The “optimized” group was not very well optimized –only 44% had a therapeutic level >5, but still performed much better than the standard group (which more often had combination therapy). This indicates a need to start with higher doses and reinforces the need for therapeutic drug monitoring.
  2. This study further shows that 5 mg/kg dosing is inadequate. In the standard group, even with combination therapy, only 18% achieved therapeutic levels.
  3. This article will be another one to include to try to persuade insurance companies that kids are different and need higher doses of infliximab.
  4. Though inconvenient for families, dosing more frequently is more effective than higher doses for improving trough levels (ie 5 mg/kg q4 wks results in better trough levels than 10 mg/kg q8 wks).

Here are some additional references on this topic (from a recent appeal):

For pediatrics, studies have shown that utilizing dosing of 5 mg/kg/dose results in subtherapeutic dosing in around 80%, especially if low albumin.  This places patients at high risk for developing antibodies to infliximab and complications from Crohn’s disease.

  1. LE Bauman et al Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020 Feb 11;26(3):429-439. Improved Population Pharmacokinetic Model for Predicting Optimized Infliximab Exposure in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The authors identified 228 pediatric patients with IBD and developed a pharmacokinetic model using weight, albumin, sedimentation rate and antibodies to infliximab (ATI) to help predict infliximab dosing that would achieve a therapeutic trough level (>5 mcg/mL). In their study, they also simulated 1000 patients and found that only 24% of patients receiving 5 mg/kg q8weeks achieved a therapeutic level; this increased to 56% for 10 mg/kg q8weeks
  2. Frymoyer A, Piester TL, Park KT. JPGN. 2016;62(5):723-727. Infliximab dosing strategies and predicted trough exposure in children with Crohn’s disease. Only 21% of children in this modeling study achieved a trough level >3 if the albumin was 3 or lower. The goal for trough level is NOW >5.
  3. JM Shapiro et al. JPGN 2016; 62: 867-72. Durability of Infliximab Is Associated With Disease Extent in Children With Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  In this study with 98 pediatric patients, 70% with extensive disease required dose escalation.
  4. Ungar B, Levy I, Yavne Y, et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;14(4):550-557.e552. Optimizing Anti-TNF-alpha therapy: serum levels of Infliximab and Adalimumab are associated with mucosal healing in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. Getting good levels important to achieve healing/remission.
  5. NV Castelle et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022; 20: 465-467. Patients With Low Drug Levels or Antibodies to a Prior Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor Are More Likely to Develop Antibodies to a Subsequent Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor. Good levels are associated wtih fewer antibodies to infliximab.

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On a recent trip to Florida, we picked up more than 40 sand dollars on a morning beach walk. This was during a cold snap, at low tide and after a storm.

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.

“Is Salt at Fault?” in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

R Kuang et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2023; 29: 140-150. Is Salt at Fault? Dietary Salt Consumption and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This review looks at the potential role of salt in relation to the epidemiology of inflammatory bowel disease. The general focus is that the prevalence/incidence of IBD has been increasing and there must be environmental/dietary factors involved. Could salt be one of those causal factors or is it merely a temporal association?

Key points:

  • Ultra-processed foods make up more than half of the daily caloric intake in developed countries such as the United States! and Canada and between one-third to one-fifth of diets in middle-income countries such as Brazil and Mexico.. Ultra-processed foods involve “fractioning of whole foods into substances, chemical modifications of these substances, frequent use of cosmetic additives and sophisticated packaging that allow producers to create highly profitable, convenient, and hyperpalatable products.” Ultra-processed foods are typically high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and salt and low in dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are also calorie dense. For Americans, the primary source of sodium in the diet is from commercially processed foods.
  • At present, the typical American consumes over 40% more salt on a daily basis than is re-commended. Added salt is a key component of UPFs, whose increased consumption has been closely linked to this rise in the IBD incidence. Even though salt is a key component of UPFs, it has received limited attention in the investigation of IBD...Excess salt contributes to greater monocyte and T-cell-driven inflammation and a parallel loss of immunoregulatory mechanisms involving M2 macrophages and Tregs in the Th17 axis.
  • The authors argue that improvement in IBD with exclusive enteral nutrition is another factor indicating a potential role for salt reduction as beneficial. “Although these ultra-processed liquid nutrition formulas were high in sugars, emulsifiers, and carrageenan, they were very low in sodium content.”

My take: It is not clear what impact salt has on IBD. However, too much salt causes problems well beyond hypertension and may contribute to several inflammatory conditions, including IBD, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Unrelated website information: IBD-EII is a website which has tried to organize/summarize some of the more important IBD articles including a timeline of these publications and evidence for specific medications.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Garden Nights, Holiday Lights exhibit