It’s a great honour to introduce you to ECCO’s Scientific Officer, Professor Ailsa Hart. Ailsa is a Consultant Gastroenterologist and the IBD lead at St Mark’s Hospital, Harrow, London. Ailsa has been an active member at ECCO for many years and has been a great supporter of several initiatives. She has won the hearts and minds of many within and outside ECCO with her calm demeanour, hard work and bright outlook.
We hope you enjoy listening to this uplifting interview with Ailsa who gives us a sunny forecast during these challenging times. Please click on the audio link below:
Marc Ferrante was appointed assistant professor at KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium) in 2013, and later became associate professor. He is also a staff member in the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University Hospitals Leuven. He is a lecturer for students of Biomedical Sciences and Medicine and a coach for clinical fellows in training. He has previously been chair of both Y-ECCO and ClinCom and was appointed as a SciCom Member in 2019.
Crohn’s Disease is complicated by strictures in up to 30% of cases. Medical management with biologics is often suboptimal and surgical treatment is associated with postoperative complications and disease recurrence. Targeted therapy with endoscopic balloon dilatation (EBD) of strictures less than 5 cm has high rates of technical success (passage of endoscope through the stricture) but variable clinical success (relief of obstructive symptoms), with up to 25% of patients requiring surgery at one-year follow-up . Removable fully covered metal stents are safe for the treatment of refractory strictures but the risk of stent migration is high .
Fatigue is a common yet poorly understood manifestation of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and can occur independently of disease activity. A prospective cohort study of 326 IBD patients initiating biologic therapy (with infliximab, vedolizumab or ustekinumab) demonstrated fatigue was prevalent at baseline (63%)1. Whilst fewer patients reported fatigue with treatment (70% at week 14, 61% at week 30 and 61% at week 54), a third continued to experience fatigue despite achieving clinical remission. This is supported by other studies, where fatigue prevalence in quiescent disease was as high as 36% in Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and 41% in Crohn’s disease (CD)2.
In the last decade, research on the human gut microbiome and its influence on health and disease has taken flight. This has strengthened the belief that the underlying pathogenesis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) involves an altered immune response to characteristic shifts in the composition of the gut microbiome.
After a 2020 that ended up being all about COVID-19, let’s hope that 2021 will be a normal year where we can meet and network again and put COVID behind us. I recently got my first shot of the vaccination, which was a wonderful experience of what science is capable of in times of need. In Denmark we’ve started vaccinating our IBD patients but vaccine scepticism and uncertainties about the evidence is everywhere and we as physicians are needed more than ever to inform our patients.
Although the relationship between IBD and nutrition is of longstanding interest, the attention paid to it has increased dramatically in recent years, with the inclusion of nutritional interventions in ECCO Guidelines on both paediatric and adult Crohn’s Disease (and of course many other IBD guidelines), bespoke publications such as the ECCO perioperative dietary therapy topical review and a flowering of clinical interest in Crohn’s Disease-specific diets.
This clinical interest in nutritional issues in IBD is also reflected in the exceptional interest in a December 2020 educational article in the UEG Journal “Mistakes in…” series, namely “Mistakes in nutrition in IBD and how to avoid them” by the ECCO Members Joe Meredith, Kostas Gerasimidis and Richard Russell (ueg.eu/a/268). Basic and translational scientific studies of the pathogenesis of IBD have increasingly evaluated the role of nutrition and particularly its interaction with the microbiome.
For the past year the COVID-19 pandemic has raged across the world, with wave after wave of the disease. No country has been spared and no end is in sight in the near future. A recent position paper from the ECCO COVID-19 Taskforce presented the ten ‘dos and don’ts’ when caring for IBD patients. S-ECCO Members are involved in the specialised surgical care of IBD patients in many countries and a variety of institutions. Hence, we are offering this opinion piece on the performance of IBD surgery during the pandemic.
Due to COVID-19, the 16th ECCO Congress originally planned for February 2021 in Berlin was postponed to July 7–10 in the Bella Center in Copenhagen. However, in view of the current COVID-19 situation, the ECCO Governing Board had to switch to ECCO’ 21 Virtual Congress. It’s a pity we cannot meet each other live, but holding the Congress online may increase the opportunity for more people to attend both the Congress itself and our 6th D-ECCO Workshop.
Following the summary of the ECCO'21 Educational Programme N-ECCO have prepared for you, we are very excited and looking already ahead to the ECCO'22 Congress.
After a year during which most of the focus has been on COVID-19 and most of our meetings have been digital, we can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel and look forward to meeting face to face again. Unfortunately, we need to wait a bit longer and the ECCO Congress will this year be a virtual meeting. We have arranged a lot of very interesting sessions and I hope you all will sign up. But we have also been very active in planning for the ECCO Congress in 2022, which, I am very proud and happy to say, will be held in Stockholm, my home town. I hope to see you all there!