New gastrointestinal research, treatment of digestive diseases, and clinical practice management will be the focus of the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) 2012 Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course. The event is expected to host more than 5000 gastroenterologists at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This year's meeting attracted a record 2007 submitted abstracts and will include 1659 posters and 67 oral presentations. The high number of submitted abstracts came as a bit of a surprise to meeting organizers.

"I'd like to think it's because the science overall at the American College of Gastroenterology is getting better, so we're attracting [a lot of] people," Jonathan A. Leighton, MD, chair of the educational affairs committee for the American College of Gastroenterology and professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, told Medscape Medical News.

Conference highlights will include new technologies for treating conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and gastroparesis.

Several studies will concentrate on the differences between black and white patients with inflammatory bowel disease and specifically Crohn's disease. They will provide clinicians with new insight on how racial disparities involving disease characteristics, infliximab use, and fistulizing Crohn's disease may affect their patients.

Other studies focus on Clostridium difficile. One study retrospectively analyzed the changing epidemiologic trends of patients with C difficile–associated diarrhea who were admitted to an acute care hospital, and another tracked outcomes of infection in children hospitalized with C difficile infections.

The American Journal of Gastroenterology lecture will also feature C difficile, as Lawrence J. Brandt, MD, professor of medicine and of surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and chief of gastroenterology at Montefiore Medical Center, both in New York City, will discuss a new procedure using fecal transplantation to treat persistent C difficile infections. Fecal transplantation "has gotten a lot of attention in the last couple of years," said Dr. Leighton.

In another important study, researchers analyzed data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample to determine the incidence, mortality, and resource utilization for upper gastrointestinal bleeding in a nationally representative database.

Researchers will also be reporting new results on esophageal and colorectal cancer, including a metaanalysis of clinical studies exploring the cancer prevention effects of statins and a study of the effects of osteoporosis drugs on esophageal cancer risk.

In colorectal cancer, research highlights will include a study of chronic constipation and risk for colorectal cancer and benign neoplasms. Other research attempted to identify the risk for colorectal cancer after diagnosis of endometrial cancers. An additional study was the first population-based assessment of the risk for colorectal cancer in extended family members of patients with colorectal cancer.

The conference will also feature a number of case reports, including 2 that investigate the effects of noncompliance with vitamin and mineral supplementation protocols after bariatric surgery. Another case report looked at a little-known but costly effect of marijuana use.

All told, the conference promises to be a thorough overview of a field that continues to evolve. "We always try to make sure we hit the hot topics," said Dr. Leighton.