New Eosinophilic Esophagitis Severity Score May Guide Treatment

Thomas R. Collins, MDedge News

June 08, 2022

The American Gastroenterological Association has developed a new index to help clinicians gauge the severity of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), offering a tool to physicians that experts say has been lacking in the field and should help better guide treatment.

The index – known as I-SEE, for Index of Severity for Eosinophilic Esophagitis – was developed after an exhaustive review of the literature, and allows clinicians to calculate a score based on symptoms, complications, endoscopy findings, and histology. It was published in Gastroenterology and the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

In other eosinophilic disorders, such as asthma, there are well-prescribed treatment pathways based on the severity, said Evan Dellon, MD, MPH, professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"That is the ultimate aspiration for I-SEE – assess EoE severity, have that severity linked to certain outcomes and therefore be associated with certain treatment and monitoring recommendations, then reassess the patient severity in a standardized way, and then make additional treatment and monitoring changes if needed," he said in an interview. "However, to get there a lot more research into the use of the tool will be needed."

With support from the AGA, a multidisciplinary group – including adult and pediatric specialists in gastroenterology, asthma and immunology, pathology, epidemiology, and basic and translational research, as well as patient advocates – broke into teams to assess the available literature, developed consensus on the factors to be used, and developed consensus on the scoring system.

New ways have been developed over the years to assess patients' responses to treatments and gauge their disease activity, from patient-reported outcomes to endoscopic assessment platforms and metrics using histology. But all of this information hadn't been synthesized into a tool that clinicians would find practical to use, the expert group said in its paper describing the index.

How It Works

The index divides criteria into three main categories: symptoms and complications, inflammatory features, and fibrostenotic features.

In the symptoms and complications category, points are assessed based on whether symptoms are weekly, daily, or several times a day and whether problems such as food impaction or esophageal perforations are present.

Inflammatory features include localized or diffuse edema or furrows on endoscopy and eosinophil counts.

Fibrostenotic scoring items include features such as rings or strictures and how constricting they are, as well as basal zone hyperplasia and lamina propria fibrosis.

Each feature is assigned a score of 1-15. An overall score of 0 points would be considered inactive disease; 1-6 is mildly active disease; 7-14 is moderately active disease; and 15 or more is severely active disease.

Someone with daily symptoms (2 points) and localized edema on endoscopy (1 point) and 15-60 eosinophils per high power field (1 point) would have a total of 4 points and be considered to have mildly active disease. Someone who is 18 years of age or older with daily symptoms (2 points), food impaction with an ED visit (2 points), diffuse edema on endoscopy (2 points), 15-60 eosinophils per high power field (1 point), basal zone hyperplasia (2 points), and rings or strictures on endoscopy that don't permit passing a standard upper endoscope (15 points), would have 24 points and be considered to have severely active disease.

The index is only just starting to be tested with patient-level data, but the first results are promising, Dellon said. He hopes incorporating endoscopic and histologic features into the index will lead to wider evaluation of these indicators of severity because they have been shown to be important clinically.

Dellon said there is a plan to develop an app that will allow the index's "usability" to be tested across a range of practice settings and disciplines. The index will also be evaluated in existing and prospectively collected datasets.

"This will help us understand the distribution of EoE patient severity in a number of settings, as well as how severity relates to posttreatment outcomes," he said. "Ultimately, it is possible that I-SEE could be incorporated into electronic medical records systems."

Simplifying Clinical Practice

Philip Katz, MD, professor of medicine in the gastroenterology division at Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, said the index could be a step forward in the care of EoE patients.

"The way all of us make choices for these patients and how we judge where they are in terms of the 'severity' of their disease is not ideal, by any means," he said. "[This] appears to be a strong attempt to simplify what we're currently doing now and put it all in one place."

Ease of use will be important and his practice will be evaluating that, he said. He said he hopes that software will make it practical, possibly with the necessary information able to be imported straight from the electronic health record.

"We'll do our best to use the system data in a way that the authors have suggested," he said. "Basically, we'll make our own opinions as data is gathered."

He recommended that clinicians treating EoE try to use the index and assess its performance on their own, in addition to staying aware of data that's collected elsewhere in the field. That way, collectively, the tool will have the maximum impact on improving patient care.

"[The researchers who developed the tool] are people who have dedicated a substantial portion of their professional careers to studying this disease and are comfortable that this is a tool that will offer more value than what we're currently doing," he said. "Chances are, this will be much better than what we currently have."

This new tool was developed as part of AGA's EoE initiative: Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Expand, Optimize, Excel. View additional resources at eoe.gastro.org.

The index was developed as part of a conference that was supported by a grant from Takeda. This conference was also funded in part by the division of intramural research at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/National Institutes of Health and supported by CEGIR (U54 AI117804). All activities and products resulting from this conference were independently developed with no involvement or input from the funder. The authors disclosed relationships with various industry entities, including Takeda. None of the other relationships were relevant to this work. Katz consults with Phathom, Sebela Pharmaceuticals, and AstraZeneca.

This article originally appeared on GI & Hepatology News.

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