Useful Endoscopic Tricks for Stricture Management and Magnets

JL Yasuda et al. JPGN 2023; 76: 77-79. Measurement of Stricture Dimensions Using a Visual Comparative Estimation Method With Biopsy Forceps During Endoscopy

This quick study looked at using biopsy forceps in 191 endoscopies to estimate esophageal stricture narrowing. Key findings:

  • Lin’s concordance correlation coefficient was 0.92 (95% confidence interval: 0.89–0.94) between the visual diameter estimates and the fluoroscopic stricture measurements.
  • Correlation was strongest for smaller to mid-sized stricture diameters
  • Yellow biopsy forceps open wide to ~6 mm and standard orange biopsy forceps ~7 mm
  • Dimensions of the actual scope can be helpful in estimating a stricture. Some pediatric scope have 5-6 mm diameter and standard scopes ranging from 8.0-9.8 mm

My take: This study shows that commonly available endoscopic tools can be used to more accurately estimate stricture diameter.

Related blog posts:

K Guilcher et al. JPGN Reports 3(4):p e257, November 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/PG9.000000000000025. Open Access! Innovative Makeshift Technique for Removing Ingested Rare Earth Magnets “In this case, a makeshift technique of a prototype magnet in a net attracted the buried magnets within the food bolus and allowed successful retrieval of all intragastric magnets at once.” My take: This is a clever way to co-opt the enemy (the magnets). However, other useful approaches: 1. Many times an endoscopic forceps will attract the magnets 2. Using fluoroscopy, can be helpful in locating difficult to visualize objects

Atlanta Botanical Gardens: Garden Lights, Holiday Lights (with and without 3-D glasses)

Big Study on Intralesional Steroid Injection for Esophageal Anastomotic Strictures & 8 Truths on COVID-19

A recent retrospective study (PD Ngo et al. JPGN 2020; 70: 462-7) describes the largest published experience with intralesional steroid injection (ISI) for esophageal anastomotic strictures; the population studied in this report were strictures associated with esophageal atresia (EA) repair.

Key Details:

  • 158 patients, 2010-2017, were included
  • 1055 balloon dilatations and 452 ISI+
  • Triamcinolone acetate (10 mg/mL) was injected into the scar tissue “at a typical doses of 1 to 2 mg/kg with a weight-based maximum of 20mg and not >40 mg per procedure (typically 10-20 mg).  The total injected dose was divided into 4 or more injection sites.”
  • Dilatation was performed with controlled radial expansion (CRE) balloons.
  • Prior to dilatation, a brief intraoperative contrast esophagram with half-strength ioversol 68% (Optiray 320) was performed.  This allowed estimation of the anastomotic diameters. In some cases with poor contrast distention, the estimation was completed using the endoscope diameter or biopsy forceps size.

Key findings:

  • The median change in stricture diameter was significantly greater in the ISI+ group compared to the ISI-neg group with stricture dilatation, with an adjusted odds ratio of 3.24
  • The likelihood of ISI injection being helpful was more pronounced with the first three sessions, with a median change of 1 mm compared to 0.5mm (after the first three).  The authors note that after the first 3 ISI+-dilatations, there was not a statistically-significant difference in stricture dilatation between those receiving ISI and those with balloon alone
  • There was no difference in perforation rates with ISI than without
  • The authors noted that patients who received ISI were less likely to be subsequently characterized as refractory

The study has a number of limitations including lack of precision/reproducibility with stricture diameter with dilatation; in addition, it was non-randomized and retrospective.

My take: This study, completed in a highly-specialized center, provides evidence that stricture dilatation following esophageal atresia repair is likely to be more successful with steroid injection.

Related blog posts:

Also, a good read (thanks to 33mail Bryan Vartabedian for this reference): Can We Discuss Flatten-the-Curve in COVID19? My Eight Assertions by JOHN MANDROLA, MD

” I will argue that the cumulative deaths from COVID19 will not be reduced significantly by flatten-the-curve policies. And that this virus will be as dangerous to vulnerable patients in 6 months to a year. We should be allowed to debate this.”

Key points: flattening of the curve does not mean that we will substantially lower the total mortality related to COVID-19 –though hospitals now have had time to avoid being overwhelmed.  The virus is not contained, tests will underperform, new treatments do not help much (thus far), the overall mortality is ~1%, it may be difficult for a vaccine to prove its effectiveness, and COVID-19 (& our response) will likely lead to a large number of deaths not due to COVID-19.

Curbside Humor

Dilatation for Eosinophilic Esophagitis -Pediatric Data

The most recent data in adults has indicated that dilatation for eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) likely does not have increased risk compare to esophageal dilatation for other causes.  A recent pediatric retrospective study (C Menard-Katcher et al. JPGN 2017; 64: 701-6) reaches a similar conclusion.

In this study over a 5-year period, there were 68 dilatations among 40 patients with EoE.

Dilatation was considered complete if a diameter of 15 mm (45 French) was reached or if a deep rent in the mucosa was evident; small (<0.5 cm) shallow rents were “not considered criteria for cessation of dilations.”


  • In their institution, areas of narrowing >5 cm in length were typically treated with Maloney dilators and shorter narrowings were managed with balloon dilators (through the scope).
  • For Maloney bougie dilators, often dilations started at 24 French; typically 30 French if scope could traverse narrowing.
  • For balloon, often dilations started at 10 mm.  Fluoroscopy was often used at initial dilation (12 of 19).
  • 17 of 40 required more than one dilation in the study period

Some of the key findings:

  • Approximately 5% of their EoE patients needed dilations.
  • Patients with EoE who needed dilations were older than EoE patients who did not need this: 13.8 vs 8.2 years
  • Postoperative chest pain was most common adverse event, affecting 15% of dilations. In this small series, there were no perforations.
  • At this institution, half of the patients had dilation at their diagnostic endoscopy before starting EoE-specific therapy. However, as noted in their commentary, medical management may obviate the need for dilations.
  • Medical management consisted of “swallowed steroids (62%), dietary therapy (12%) or both (24%).”

My take: Overall, this study indicates that dilations are fairly safe in the EoE population. That being said, in my view, all dilations carry a small but significant risk.

Related blog posts:

Musee d’Orsay, Naissance de Venus, Alexandre Cabanel, 1863





Adverse Events Following Pediatric Endoscopy –Underestimated Previously

A recent study (RE Kramer, MR Narkewicz. JPGN 2016; 62: 828-33) report the frequency of adverse events that occurred within 72 hours in a prospective observational cohort of 9577 patients from a single center.

The authors characterized complications more precisely and identified a much higher rate of complications than what has previously been reported.  Key findings:

  • The overall adverse event rate was 2.6% with 1.7% of all cases requiring unanticipated medical care.
  • Absolute risk of bleeding was 0.11%, infection 0.07%, and perforation 0.1% (n=12).  In total, these standard measures of complications were 0.28%.
  • Advanced and therapeutic cases had much higher rates of adverse events. Perforations occurred after esophageal dilatation (5), esophageal food impaction (1), polypectomy (4), and primary GJ placement (2).
  • Adverse rate with ERCP was 11.54%
  • Adverse rate with PEG was 10.71%
  • Adverse rate with dilatation was 10.94%.  It is noted that a total of 319 dilatations were reviewed.  5 had perforations.
  • Adverse rate with polypectomy was 6.27%.  It is noted that a total of 128 polypectomies were reviewed.  4 had perforations.
  • The authors did not identify a significantly higher complication rate with trainee physicians.

As noted in a previous entry (see below), studies in adults have an estimated a perforation rate of 0.09% and serious complication rates (GI and non-GI complications) of 0.15% for upper endoscopy and of 0.2% for colonoscopy. In addition, a large pediatric study of endoscopies, found a perforation rate of 0.014% for EGDs and 0.028% for colonoscopies. Thus, this report identifies a higher rate (10-fold) of perforation (driven by therapeutic endoscopy) and a much higher rate of adverse events, including 2.08% in diagnostic EGD and 3.9% for diagnostic colonoscopy.  Furthermore, for diagnostic EGD and for diagnostic colonoscopy, grade 2 (needing ER or unanticipated physician evaluation) or higher adverse events occurred in 1.21% and 2.31% respectively.

My take: Using a broader (and more accurate) definition of complications after endoscopy, the authors have demonstrated a much higher rate of adverse events, particularly following dilatation, PEG, polypectomy, and ERCP.  This report indicates that our preop counseling needs to be modified to inform families that complications are not quite so rare.

Related blog post:  High Endoscopy Complication Rate After Intestinal …

Complication -Unrelated to endoscopy:

pontine myelinosis

Predicting Response to Topical Steroids in Eosinophilic Esophagitis

A recent study (Wolf WA, et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2015; 13: 45-58) examined 221 patients in a retrospective cohort study to determine how effective topical steroids were in the treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).  The authors studied these patients from 2006-2013; the majority received budesonide (63%) and the remainder received fluticasone; the typical dosing was 0.5 mg-1 mg twice daily and 440-880 mcg twice daily, respectively. 129 (58%) of the participants were >18 years.

Key findings:

  • 57% had histologic response with <15 eos/hpf
  • Refractory patients “were difficult to treat with dietary and second-line pharmacologic therapies, with less than half responding even after multiple second-line therapies.” The most successful second-line approach was diet: 6 of 16 (38%) had improved histology (<15 eos/hpf).  Higher doses of topical agents were effective in 2 of 14 (14%) and alternative topical agent was effective in 2 of 7 patients (29%).
  • Dilatation at the time of disease presentation (25% of the study cohort) correlated with poor clinical outcome.  Only 40% (20 of 50) had a histologic response.
  • High tissue levels of tryptase and eotaxin-3 increased the likelihood of a steroid response.

As this was a retrospective study, there were several weaknesses.

Take-home message: The findings from this large cohort show that more than 40% of patients did not have a favorable histologic response.  Some recent studies indicate that higher doses of steroids may be effective, but this may be influenced by the proportion of individuals with advanced fibrostenotic disease.

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.

Chicago's Bean

Chicago’s Bean

EoE: Drugs, Diets, Dilatation and PPI-REE

PPI-REE or proton pump inhibitor-responsive esophageal eosinophilia remains a problematic issue for our eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) patients.  PPI-REE and the 3 D’s (Drugs, diet, and dilatation) have been reviewed recently (Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2012; 10: 1066-78).

The issues with PPI-REE that are problematic:

  • If a patient with suspected EoE is pretreated with a PPI and they do not have eosinophils present at the time of endoscopy then a diagnosis of PPI-REE cannot be established.
  • If patients are not pretreated, then determining that they have PPI-REE compared with typical EoE, requires repeat endoscopy.  Furthermore, response to PPI may be transient and/or natural variation in EoE could make definitive diagnosis of PPI-REE quite difficult.
  • If a patient presents with classic-appearing EoE, choosing to treat with a PPI is difficult as the response rate is much lower than with either dietary therapy or drug therapy.  In addition, many symptomatic patients may have been treated to some extent with a PPI.  Do they warrant repeat treatment and repeat endoscopy prior to using more typical treatment for EoE?

Beyond this topic, this review covers the recent consensus guidelines and the typical treatments: diets, drugs, and dilatation.

With regard to dilatation, the author notes that it may be safer than previously believed.  Furthermore, in a recent trial, 81% were symptom free at 3 months and 46% were symptom free at 1 year.  Despite better safety results, 74% of patients in one study complained of retrosternal pain after in endoscopy (moderate in 21% and severe in 17%).

With regard to drug or dietary therapy, the author recommends checking on the effectiveness after 6-8 weeks with a repeat endoscopy.  Until better tools for assessing response to therapy become available, endoscopy remains the only accurate way to determine if treatment is working.

Related blog entries:

Guidelines for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

For a little while, I’ve meant to complete a post on the EoE guidelines published last fall (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2011; 128: 3-20).  This article, based on the input of 33 physicians with EoE expertise, provides a lot of depth to this unfolding area in pediatric gastroenterology.

Diagnosis of EoE. The authors caution that this diagnosis is not a histologic diagnosis as a number of entities can cause esophageal eosinophilia; at the same time, a minimum number of eosinophils, 15/hpf, is a necessary diagnostic threshold.  A small number of patients may have EoE with fewer than 15/hpf, including PPI-responsive EoE, inadequate biopsy sampling, seasonal variation, or partial treatment (eg. patient on corticosteroids).

How many biopsies?  In one cited study in the article, 2, 3, and 6 biopsies had sensitivity of 84%, 97%, and 100% respectively.  Endoscopic biopsies remain the only reliable diagnostic test.

Why are there a subset of PPI-responsive EoE patients?  Potential explanations include improvement in immune-activation after healing of esophageal mucosa, inherent anti-inflammatory property of PPIs, or due to pitfalls in current diagnostic testing.  Due to recognition of this disorder, pH testing may be needed in many patients with suspected EoE.  Even still, the authors note that “PPI responsiveness or diagnostic testing (pH monitoring) might not adequately distinguish GERD and EoE.”

How useful are genotypic features?  Clinical  use of genotypes is not feasible at this time.  However, it is anticipated that esophageal gene expression will emerge as one way to differentiate EoE from other conditions and to determine optimal treatments.

What type of allergy evaluation? The majority of EoE patients have concurrent atopic diseases, including rhinitis, asthma, and eczema.  Thorough evaluation by an allergist (or immunologist) is recommended.  Specific recommendations: skin prick testing (SPT), serum IgE for immediate-type food allergy.  Atopy patch testing (APT) has high negative predictive values, >90%, except for milk which is ~50%.  APT needs to “be standardized and validated.”

Biomarkers? “Insufficient evidence to support any peripheral marker” including cytokines, and IgE (total).

Treatment –PPI: PPIs are useful to distinguish GERD as well as PPI-responsive EoE from EoE requiring other treatments.  They also help with symptomatic treatment in some patients who have secondary GERD.  Recommended dose in children 1 mg/kg/dose BID.

Treatment –Dietary: Three dietary regimens have potential effectiveness: 1) selective food diet based on allergy testing, 2) dietary restriction of the most likely food antigens (eg. six food group diet elimination) and 3) strict amino acid based diet.  Tolerance of foods that have been shown previously to provoke EoE is unlikely to develop in the majority of EoE patients.

Treatment –Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are effective but when discontinued EoE almost always recurs.  Systemic corticosteroids can be particularly useful when severe dysphagia is present.  With severe endoscopic findings, a course of corticosteroids may help reduce the need for dilatation or lessen the risk.  Long-term use of systemic steroids is not recommended.  Topical steroids should be considered in all patients with EoE.  Recommended doses are given.

  • For fluticasone:  88-440 μg 2-4 times per day (max 880 μg BID)
  • For budesonide: 1mg daily (<10 y) and 2 mg daily (≥10 y)
Treatment –Dilation:  Dilation can provide relief of dysphagia.  In most cases, medical or dietary therapy should be attempted prior to use of dilation.  Goal of 15-18 mm.  Practical advice (not validated in studies): Limit dilation progression per session to 3 mm or less after resistance has been encountered.
Treatment –Alternatives:  Cromolyn, leukotriene receptor antagonists, or immunosuppressive agents (eg azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine) are “not recommended.”
Complications: Perforations (spontaneous & procedure-related), food impactions, strictures, and narrow caliber esophagus.  There has not been evidence of an increased esophageal cancer risk in EoE patients to date.
Unresolved issues: Despite the extensive consensus on many of these issues, the conclusions inform the reader of how far we need to go.  Some of the unresolved questions include such basic problems:
  • “Importance of treating asymptomatic patients”
  • “Natural history of EoE and rates and predictive indexes of complications”
  • “Accuracy of skin prick and patch testing”
  • “Optimal end points of treatment”

Previous related blog posts:

The undiscovered country

Eosinophilic Esophagitis -Six Food Group Diet

Practical information on EoE for families:

The undiscovered country

The title of this blog is derived from a Star Trek movie.  I think that when we see patients with eosinophilic esophagitis that we are often seeing something new and poorly characterized.

Despite so many unanswered questions, particularly on an individual basis, this topic has seen a lot of interest and there are many advances in both bedside and basic research.  The review article  (Allergy 2012; DOI: 10: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2012.02787.x) focuses on many of the similarities and differences between pediatric and adult patients.  Is it the same disease? (Probably yes)

With regard to medical history, the article reminds clinicians to ask about coping strategies:

  • do you wash food down with liquid?
  • are you the last one to finish your food?
  • do you chew your food a long time?
  • do you avoid foods like meats or breads?

Clinical features –main difference is greater presentation variety in children.  Adults almost always have long-standing dysphagia.  In pediatrics, painful symptoms, reflux symptoms, and feeding refusal are often seen in early stages.  In both populations, other atopic diseases are very common.

Immunopathogenesis (same in pediatrics and adults):  Th2-type inflammatory response; not just eosinophils but also IL-5-expressing T-cells, B cells, and IgE-bearing mast cells.  A break-down of all the types of quantified cells from a large number of studies is detailed (Table 2).

Allergic profile –main difference is much higher aeroallergen sensitization in adolescent & adult patients than in pediatric patients.  In children, top four allergens: milk, wheat, egg, and soy.  In older patients/adults, nuts are frequent food allergens.

Treatment strategies –basic question of whether to treat for symptomatic relief or histologic response is still debated.  Three goals of treatment are the same:

  • improve quality of life
  • reduce the risk of severe esophageal injury
  • prevent esophageal damage

3 D’s of treatment drugs, diet, dilatation:

Drugs: topical steroids (fluticasone, budesonide) are effective in ~50% of children & these agents may reverse subepithelial fibrosis, PPIs -small percentage have EoE PPI-responsive disease, & systemic steroids.  Lower doses of budesonide may be effective as maintenance treatment (0.25mg BID).  Interestingly, infliximab has not been effective clinically or histologically despite the high amounts of TNF.  Azathioprine (or 6-MP) was effective in three steroid-dependent patients in a pilot study.

Diet –review does not cover new territory (see previous blog: Eosinophilic Esophagitis -Six Food Group Diet).  States that elemental diets are not practical in adults.  Discusses the fact that food allergy identification is difficult & remains a pressing research need.

Dilatation –can provide long-lasting symptom relief.  Dilatation is infrequently utilized in pediatrics and virtually never in absence of other therapies.

On a side note, in my training I was taught that there were 3D’s to treating every patient: diet, drugs, and demeanor — a good attitude goes a long way, particularly in an uncertain world.

Additional references:

  • -Gastroenterology 2011; 141: 1593.  anti-IL-5.  partially effective for EoE.
  • -JPGN 2010; 51: 723. n=91.  Incidental gastric eosinophils does not predict a worse response to fluticasone then isolated EoE.
  • -Clin Gastro & Hepatology 2011; 9: 400 (editorial 370). Budesonide at dose of 0.25mg BID was partially effective in adult cohort of n=28.
  • -Aceves SS et al. Allergy 2010; 65: 109-116. 3 month course of budesonide can lead to resolution of esophageal remodeling. Lamina propria fibrosis resolution correlates with response to topical steroids. Examined effect on lamina propria after 3 months of Rx.
  • -Gastroenterology 2010; 139: 1526. n=36. (summary pg 1429) 15 day course of budesonide (1mg BID). 13/18 in Rx group had improved dysphagia, 72% wiht histologic remission, 92% reduction in eosinophil count. Did not seem to matter if “allergic” or not. 3 pts developed mild candida.
  • -Gastroenterology 2010; 139: 418. Randomized placebo study showed effectiveness.n=15 Rx (n=9 placebo). 87% of Rx group responded.  2ml of water with 0.5gm pulmicort and mixed it with 4-5 packets of splenda.
  • -JPGN 2007; 45: 281/370/319. Review/research symposium/subepithelial fibrosis associated with EoE & dysphagia.
  • -JPGN 2007; 45: 22-31. Th2 Immunity w Eotaxin-3/ C-C chemokine receptor in EoE.
  • -Gastroenterology 2006; 131: 1381-1391. Randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of fluticasone for EoE: 880mcg divided bid; n=21 Rx, n=15 placebo. 50% (vs 9% controls) achieved histologic remission; Rx more effective in those w/o detectable food allergies. 67% (vs. 27% controls) resolution of vomiting.
  • -Clin Gastro & Hep 2007; 5: xxiv. EoE causing Boerhaave’s syndrome (spontaneous rupture)
  • INCREASED FRAGILITY: -Gastrointest Endosc 2003; 57: 407-12. -Clin Gastro Hepatolo 2003; 1: 433-37.
  • -Clin Gastro & Hep 2006; 4: 1328. absolute eosinophilia (AEC 440 vs 140 controls), eosinophil-derived neurotoxin, and eotaxin-3 act as biomarkers of EE activity.
  • -Gastroenterology2006; 131: 2018 (-J Clin Invest 2006; 116: 536-547. ) Eostaxin-3/EcE transcript signature.
  • -J Pediatr 2005; 147: 540 Picture of ringed esophagitis.
  • -JPGN 2004; 39: S8 [abstract 0005]. CHOP experience in 250 pts. NG elemental diet was most effective. ~6% of pts presenting with GER. Strict avoidance of allergens needed.