, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 973-982
Date: 24 Apr 2009

Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Perspectives of Adult and Pediatric Gastroenterologists

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Abstract

To survey pediatric (PGI) and adult gastroenterologists (AGI) regarding their perceptions about the etiology, diagnosis, and management of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), and to assess whether differences in the clinical approach to EoE exist between these subspecialists. A 21-item survey related to EoE was emailed to PGI who subscribe to the PEDSGI Bulletin Board, and to two AGI per Electoral College vote in the US, randomly selected from each state. The survey was voluntary, and consent was assumed based on survey submission. The responses were submitted anonymously and results compiled in a secure Web site. A total of 249 physicians from across the globe responded to the survey, 68% of whom were PGI. The majority of respondents worked primarily in an academic institution or teaching hospital. Respondents revealed diagnosing an average of six cases (median 8, range 0–30) of EoE in the past 6 months. Ninety-two percent of AGI who see a patient with dysphagia and suspected EoE proceed to endoscopy with biopsies, compared to only 54% of PGI (P < 0.05); 38% of PGI would first perform an upper GI study. Both subspecialties agreed that biopsies of the proximal and distal esophagus are needed to make a definitive diagnosis of EoE. Fifty-eight percent PGI and 44% AGI defined EoE as an eosinophilic density of ≥20 per high power field (hpf) in esophageal biopsies. Seventy-seven percent of PGI but only 16% of AGI reported routine referral of patients for food allergy evaluation (P < 0.05). While 77% PGI and 91% of AGI would rely on a symptom-based follow-up, 27% PGI versus 9% AGI follow patients with biopsies according to a pre-determined schedule and another 38% repeat biopsies as needed, versus 15% AGI. This survey exposes a few inconsistencies among gastroenterologists in the diagnosis, management, and follow-up of patients with EoE. The currently available practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of EoE are largely based on retrospective studies and expert opinion. The results of this survey suggest that a collaborative effort based on robust research is required upon us to develop evidence for how we care for these patients.