In Focus

Eosinophilic esophagitis: Frequently asked questions (and answers) for the early-career gastroenterologist


 

During clinical follow-up, the frequency of monitoring as it relates to symptom and endoscopic assessment is not well defined. It is reasonable to repeat endoscopic intervention following changes in therapy (i.e., reduction in steroid dosing or reintroduction of putative food triggers) or in symptoms.13 It is unclear if patients benefit from repeated endoscopies at set intervals without symptom change and after histologic response has been confirmed. In our practice, endoscopies are often considered on an annual basis. This interval is increased for patients with demonstrated stability of disease.

For patients who opt for dietary therapy and have one or two food triggers identified, long-term maintenance therapy can be straightforward with ongoing food avoidance. Limited data exist regarding long-term effectiveness of dietary therapy but loss of initial response has been reported that is often attributed to problems with adherence. Use of “diet holidays” or “planned cheats” to allow for intermittent consumption of trigger foods, often under the cover of short-term use of steroids, may improve the long-term feasibility of diet approaches.

In the recent American Gastroenterological Association guidelines, continuation of swallowed, topical steroids is recommended following remission with short-term treatment. The recurrence of both symptoms and inflammation following medication withdrawal supports this practice. Furthermore, natural history studies demonstrate progression of esophageal strictures with untreated disease.

There are no clear guidelines for long-term dosage and use of PPI or topical steroid therapy. Our practice is to down-titrate the dose of PPI or steroid following remission with short-term therapy, often starting with a reduction from twice a day to daily dosing. Although topical steroid therapy has fewer side effects, compared with systemic steroids, patients should be aware of the potential for adrenal suppression especially in an atopic population who may be exposed to multiple forms of topical steroids. Shared decision-making between patients and providers is recommended to determine comfort level with long-term use of prescription medications and dosage.

What’s on the horizon?

Several areas of development are underway to better assess and manage EoE. Novel histologic scoring tools now assess characteristics on pathology beyond eosinophil density, office-based testing modalities have been developed to assess inflammatory activity and thereby obviate the need for endoscopy, new technology can provide measures of esophageal remodeling and provide assessment of disease severity, and several biologic agents are being studied that target specific allergic mediators of the immune response in EoE.3,14-18 These novel tools, technologies, and therapies will undoubtedly change the management approach to EoE. Referral of patients into ongoing clinical trials will help inform advances in the field.

Conclusion

As an increasingly prevalent disease with a high degree of upper GI morbidity, EoE has transitioned from a rare entity to a commonly encountered disease. The new gastroenterologist will confront both straightforward as well as complex patients with EoE, and we offer several practical aspects on management. In the years ahead, the care of patients with EoE will continue to evolve to a more streamlined, effective, and personalized approach.

References

1. Kidambi T et al. World J Gastroenterol. 2012;18:4335-41.

2. Dellon ES et al. Gastroenterology. 2018;154:319-32 e3.

3. Hirano I et al. Gastroenterology. 2020;158:840-51.

4. Furuta GT et al. Gastroenterology. 2007;133:1342-63.

5. Liacouras CA et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011;128:3-20 e6; quiz 1-2.

6. Dellon ES et al. Gastroenterology. 2018;155:1022-33 e10.

7. Hirano I et al. Gut. 2013;62:489-95.

8. Rank MA et al. Gastroenterology. 2020;158:1789-810 e15.

9. Arias A et al. Gastroenterology. 2014;146:1639-48.

10. Molina-Infante J et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018;141:1365-72.

11. Gentile N et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014;40:1333-40.

12. Hirano I. Gastroenterology. 2018;155:601-6.

13. Hirano I et al. Gastroenterology. 2020;158:1776-86.

14. Collins MH et al. Dis Esophagus. 2017;30:1-8.

15. Furuta GT et al. Gut. 2013;62:1395-405.

16. Katzka DA et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015;13:77-83 e2.

17. Kwiatek MA et al. Gastroenterology. 2011;140:82-90.

18. Nicodeme F et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;11:1101-7 e1.

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