Although we could not meet in person this year, our annual AIBD national meeting was a great success.
Once again, we had amazing speakers that contributed to providing practical information on the most frequently encountered challenges in the clinical management of our IBD patients.
It was an honor to be faculty for this meeting as I presented on how to manage side effects from IBD therapy for those patients that had severe IBD but finally got into remission. This can sometimes become quite a dilemma in clinical practice as we and our patients do not want to revert into a flare, but we also do not want our patients to suffer from any side effects of their therapy either. In my presentation, I provided information on when we can continue their current therapies and manage side effects, such as in the case of psoriasis, compared to when we have to discontinue therapy completely, in the case of neurologic consequences, and move onto a different mechanism of action treatment.
I also participated in a panel session led by Dr. Kane on tips for health maintenance in our patients: from monitoring, to preventing diseases, to vaccinations. This was of paramount importance in this recent pandemic and upcoming COVID-19 vaccines.
Unique to this year, we had a full session on COVID-19 and IBD that went through the basics of COVID-19 to useful data from the international SECURE IBD registry on how COVID-19 can impact IBD as well as how our IBD medications can impact COVID-19 infections in our patients. This session included input from our European colleagues.
Much appreciated this year, the “2020 Editor’s Focus” session had the best of IBD research presented from each of our major high impact journals: Gastroenterology, American Journal of Gastroenterology, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and IBD Journal. This was a fantastic summary of research in IBD which included clinical practice updates, economic burden of disease, biomarkers of disease activity, and genetic predictors (HLA-DQA1*05 carrier) of who may be at higher risk of antiTNF antibody formation, clinical trial data on upcoming medications, and systematic reviews and meta-analysis. High-yield material included information on how we are seeing a reduction in colon cancer with antiTNF use, that home biologic infusions are not better than hospital- or office-based infusions due to higher rates of nonadherence and discontinuation of therapy, and how a Mediterranean diet improved disease activity and liver steatosis in IBD patients. Additionally, clinically relevant information included data showing discontinuation of 5-ASA medications in CD patients did not contribute to any adverse outcomes, and that we do not need to use combination immunomodulator therapy with vedolizumab or ustekinumab as there is no additional benefit compared to monotherapy.
It was great that we had a fellows track that provided a great framework for trainees to optimize their care when they are managing IBD patients. This included breakout sessions where fellows had the opportunity to meet in small groups with faculty making it easier to have meaningful discussions. Often these smaller group settings can provide our fellows clarity on certain intangible lessons that are often hard to discuss at larger “auditorium” based presentations.
Besides the basics of IBD management including inpatient care, the conference tackled questions on dietary guidance, dealing with complementary medicines, and de-escalating therapy, as well as positioning biologics and small molecules, and appropriately assessing disease activity. The conference continued to have clinical breakout sessions that facilitated smaller group-based discussions on common scenarios encountered in clinical practice.
This year, there was a separate session on the use of social media in clinical practice which is a growing medium for professional education as well as for patients. In a nutshell, it was jam-packed with useful advice!