'Practice-Changing' Reflux Technique in the Spotlight at DDW

Maureen Salamon

May 28, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC — A study comparing medication with surgery for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) refractory to proton pump inhibitors will be in the spotlight at the upcoming Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2018.

Rhonda Souza

This will be particularly relevant for practicing gastroenterologists because about 40% of patients treated with proton pump inhibitors endure persistent symptoms despite treatment, said Rhonda Souza, MD, from the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, who is chair-elect of the American Gastroenterological Association council.

"I think this research is going to change practice," she told Medscape Medical News.

Also in the limelight will be intriguing research on the use of artificial intelligence to noninvasively diagnose irritable bowel syndrome, advances in colonoscopy technology, and new uses for fecal microbiota transplant.

Sessions on bariatric techniques and their relative merits always draw attendees, said Grace Elta, MD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who is chair of the DDW council.

The procedure has "been around for some time and is very effective in addressing the growing obesity problem in the Western world, but very few patients get it because it's very invasive," Elta told Medscape Medical News. "There's been a lot of interest in the past few years about whether we can do the same techniques but less invasively."

The microbiome continues to attract "incredible interest," she added, "because it seems to affect the entire body, so much more than just through GI diseases."

Another perennially "huge" topic at DDW is new treatments for inflammatory bowel disease. "There have been very few treatments for inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's," Elta explained. However, recently, "the whole field of biologics has just exploded."

Reports on treatments in the pipeline draw "a huge crowd because everyone has patients who have failed all the current treatments and they're anxious to hear about the new ones," she pointed out.

The biggest trend affecting gastrointestinal specialists in the past 10 to 15 years has probably been physician efficiency, she noted. Several sessions will focus on the use of advanced practice providers, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

Advanced Practice

"Every year we get paid less to do the same thing, so everyone is focused on efficiency — doing things better, faster, and in a more organized manner," Elta reported.

Other practical sessions will highlight practice management and reimbursement issues in an era when payment is shifting away from fee for service.

"Instead of being paid for quantity, we'll be paid for quality," Elta said. "It sounds good, but it's very hard to do. There's no question that our current fee-for-service system pays physicians for more quantity, and sometimes that doesn't help the patient much. I think everyone's very anxious to make sure they position their practice so they're ready for those changes."

As in years past, attendees can download the DDW app to plan sessions of interest over the 4-day meeting, Elta explained. The 17 educational tracks have been color-coded to help attendees navigate the program.

This year, two session and topic tracks — clinical practice and basic science — have been added.

In the clinical practice track, you will find sessions on the latest in diagnosis and management. If you select "clinical practice track" in the app, every offering that will be of interest to you as a clinical practitioner will be displayed, Souza said.

Feedback from previous years led organizers to add sessions that are small enough to allow participants to interact with faculty, Elta said.

New this year will be a rotating café with four or five themed tables. An expert will sit at each table, and 10 attendees will move from one table to the next. "People can bring their cases, their questions — it's more an open discussion period," she said.

Souza and Elta — both longtime DDW attendees — said they're looking forward to the energy that 11,000 colleagues from around the world will bring to the nation's capital.

"These are the greatest minds in gastroenterology, together in one location. You can't beat that," Souza said. "There's networking, fun time, downtime, and exciting science. To me, this is the meeting that has it all."

Elta is a consultant for Olympus. Souza has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Follow Medscape Gastroenterology on Twitter @MedscapeGastro and Maureen Salamon @maureensalamon


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