Recent Posts

October 23rd, 2014

Clip, Burn, Inject, or All Three? How Do You Treat Ulcer Bleeding?

As endoscopists, we have all sorts of tools to treat ulcer bleeding or other gastrointestinal bleeding, such as injection with epinephrine and thermal coaptive coagulation with heater probes or multipolar electrodes like the Gold probe. More recently, a myriad of clips have become available for use. It seems to me that both operator and ulcer characteristics determine what is used in any given situation.

Take the case of a duodenal ulcer that is actively oozing at the apex of the bulb.

  • What approach would you take to control bleeding?
  • What if it were spurting?
  • What if it only had a visible vessel?
  • What if it had an adherent clot?
  • Would you take the same approach in treating a gastric ulcer?

I look forward to the dialogue.

August 14th, 2014

EMR: What Is Your Solution?

Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) has become an indispensable part of the therapeutic endoscopy armamentarium. However, the technique varies from endoscopist to endoscopist — including differences in volume used, solution ingredients, and snare type.

In my institution, the three of us who do the most EMR all differ in our approaches in many respects, including choice of snare and solution make-up. For instance, for EMR lifts, I use 18 cc of saline combined with 2 cc or 1:10,000 epinephrine (for a 1:100,000 final concentration) along with 2 drops of indigo carmine as my solution. My colleagues use differing amounts of saline, epinephrine, and indigo carmine or substitute methylene blue. I use a large hex snare in most cases; one of my colleagues prefers an oval snare.

Given the variation in the solutions and snare used for EMR in my unit, I am curious as to what others are doing. Specifically…

  • What is your preferred solution for EMR?
  • What volume do you typically use for colon polyps?
  • What snare do you prefer?
  • Any other pearls for others who do EMR?


July 21st, 2014

Hepatitis C Virus Infection: How Are You Managing the Cost of Newer Treatments?

Recently, we have seen remarkable progress in the treatment of chronic infection with hepatitis C virus — from long courses of injectable interferon plus ribavirin to short courses of once-daily oral sofosbuvir. Not only have these shorter, more-manageable regimens proven more effective, they are substantially better tolerated. So, what’s the problem? It seems to be the price tag!

Treating chronic HCV infection has never been cheap, but some of the newer treatments now cost over $80,000, and payers and patients are balking at the cost. Moreover, newer agents that may or may not be less costly will become available within the next year or so.

So, I am curious to hear from you on the following:

  • What is your first-line regimen for most of your HCV-infected patients?
  • Do you use more than one therapy depending on genotype, viral load, and liver histology?
  • Are you running into barriers from payers in using your first choice? If so, how do you appeal, and what has been your success with appeals?
  • Are you waiting for newer treatment options with the hope that the cost will come down?
  • What are your patients telling you about this issue?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you on this topic.


June 25th, 2014

Right-Sided Colon Polyps: Are You and Your Pathologist Up to Date?

It used to be relatively simple for gastroenterologists to determine colonoscopy surveillance intervals when removing right-sided polyps: We considered whether the polyp was hyperplastic or adenomatous and its size. Now, we have a new classification system that includes adenomas, hyperplastic lesions, sessile serrated polyps (SSPs), and sessile serrated adenomas (SSAs) — all of which may require various surveillance intervals depending on their number and size.

In my practice, I have noticed an evolution in my pathologist’s understanding of this new nomenclature, and in accuracy of reporting lesions — especially with regard to the important distinction between an SSP and an SSA. Early on, all sessile serrated lesions were being classified as SSAs despite these lesions being relatively uncommon, but recently, most are being classified as the more common SSPs.

What has been your experience? Specifically…

  • Are you aware of the new polyp classification nomenclature and its impact on colonoscopy surveillance intervals?
  • Is your pathologist reporting SSA instead of SSP more than 10% of the time?
  • If yes, have you explained that SSPs should greatly outnumber SSAs?
  • What surveillance interval do you recommend for a patient with an 8-mm, hyperplastic, right-sided polyp? An 8-mm adenoma? An 8-mm SSP? An 8-mm SSA?

Looking forward to hearing about your experiences and practice patterns.

March 14th, 2014

Dysphagia and Normal Endoscopy – Should We Biopsy Everyone?

The “discovery” of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) has added immensely to our understanding of many patients with dysphagia, and when endoscopic signs are present (furrowing, rings, white nodules, etc.), we should always confirm the diagnosis with endoscopic biopsies. However, many patients with EoE have a normal-appearing esophageal mucosa, and EoE would remain undetected if biopsies were not obtained. This concept has led many endoscopists to now routinely obtain endoscopic esophageal biopsies in all patients with dysphagia. I admit that this has become my predominant practice as well.

What are you doing in your practices?

More specifically …

  • Do you routinely biopsy the esophagus in patients with dysphagia and an esophagus that appears normal?
  • If yes, where do you biopsy, how many biopsies do you take, and how often are findings positive in these patients?
  • If no, do you perform any other diagnostic tests in these patients with a normal-appearing esophagus (e.g., barium pill swallows, esophageal motility studies, etc.)?

January 28th, 2014

What Bowel Prep for the Sensitive Stomach?

Although it is clear that split-dose polyethylene glycol (PEG), our first-line bowel prep, provides the optimal bowel cleansing for colonoscopy, many of my patients find it difficult or even impossible to tolerate this solution (i.e., due to vomiting). Although alternatives such as Gatorade/Miralax, with or without magnesium citrate and Dulcolax, are used by many endoscopy units, these also do not work for some of my patients.

So, what approach are you taking to bowel prep for your patients with sensitive stomachs?


  • What do you use for bowel prep in patients intolerant of standard PEG-based preps?
  • What is your success rate in avoiding vomiting during this alternative prep?
  • Do you ever prophylactically treat with anti-emetics before starting a prep?

December 9th, 2013

Are You Removing Diminutive Colonic Polyps with a Forceps?

Small colorectal polyps are commonly encountered during colonoscopy, and their removal is important in colorectal cancer prevention. These smaller lesions (≤5 mm) are relatively easy to remove — usually done by either forceps “biopsy” or mini-snare polypectomy. The choice of removal tool is often based on operator preference, but with forceps biopsy removal, recovering the lesion is easier and seemingly quicker. However, recent data suggest that forceps biopsy is less effective than snare polypectomy at total polyp removal.

So, given that this remains a gray area in terms of best practices, what I would like to know is:

  • How do you remove small (≤5 mm) polyps detected during colonoscopy?
  • Do you use one technique exclusively?
  • Do you comment on whether the polyp appears to be totally removed?
  • After you remove a polyp, do you review the pathology report to see if there is a margin of normal tissue?
  • What evidence would make you change your preference?

Looking forward to your responses.


November 25th, 2013

Does Suppressing Gastric Acid Cause Community-Acquired Pneumonia?

Ever since early observational studies documented an association between acid suppression and pneumonia, many clinicians have assumed this association meant causation. This intrigues me because results of numerous prospective trials that have controlled for underlying patient comorbidities have refuted any causative effect. Moreover, acid suppression does not result in a gastric environment conducive to bacterial overgrowth — the mechanism proposed in the hypothesis.

So why are more studies being conducted despite continuing results that show the same thing (acid-suppressive drugs are NOT associated with community-acquired pneumonias)?

What are your thoughts? Specifically:

  • Do you believe that acid-suppressing drugs might cause pneumonia?
  •  If you believe this effect exists, is it the same for all agents (e.g., H2-receptor antagonists vs. PPIs)?
  •  Are there patients you believe to be at higher risk for this effect?
  •  How do you manage this issue?

Looking forward to seeing what you think.

November 6th, 2013

Iron Deficiency Anemia: When Do We Stop Scoping?

It is standard practice to perform endoscopy in patients with iron deficiency anemia who have evidence of gastrointestinal bleeding or other symptoms. Even in the absence of symptoms, in patients aged 50 years or older, who are at increased risk for colorectal cancer, age alone would indicate that at least a colonoscopy is in order.

However, I am increasingly seeing requests for colonoscopy and upper endoscopy in patients younger than age 50 and without evidence of bleeding or symptoms of GI disease. Even when silent celiac disease is raised as a possibility, a negative serology for TTG antibodies has a 99% negative predictive value and is much less invasive and expensive as a “rule-out” test than scoping.

But the requests don’t stop there. Once a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy have excluded GI disease in an asymptomatic patient free of bleeding, we are now often being asked to assess the small bowel by capsule endoscopy. Next, it will be requests for full enteroscopy.

So, how are you handling these patients? Here are a few questions:

When evaluating IDA in the absence of evidence of GI bleeding or GI symptoms …

  • What do you recommend in: (a) patients aged <40; (b) patients aged 40 to 50; (c) patients aged >50?
  • Do you ever do capsule endoscopy or enteroscopy in this situation?

Thanks for sharing your approach.

September 23rd, 2013

Making Bowel Preps Palatable

We know that split-dose, polyethylene glycol (PEG)–based bowel preparation solutions provide the best cleansing before colonoscopy. However, many patients are not compliant with the bowel prep procedure because of the poor taste of the PEG solution. Results of a recent trial suggest a practical approach to overcoming this problem: Use candy. In the trial, use of menthol-flavored candy while drinking the PEG solution improved tolerability and resulted in higher-quality colon preparation and a better patient experience.

In that same vein, I have noted that physicians use other methods of making the solution more palatable, including adding flavoring to the prep or masking the flavor of PEG with an additional agent during ingestion. (My personal favorite is to chase each gulp with a sip of black coffee!)

So what do you do to enhance your colonoscopy prep’s tolerability?

  • Add a dilutant with flavor?
  • Use an adjunctive flavor when ingesting?
  • Slow delivery down further?
  • Something else?

I (and a lot of fifty-plus-year-olds) look forward to you revealing your secrets!




Gastroenterology Research: Author M. Brian Fennerty, M.D.

M. Brian Fennerty, MD


NEJM Journal Watch Gastroenterology

Biography | Disclosures | Summaries

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