The annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology was held virtually this year from Oct. 23 to 28 and attracted participants from around the world, including gastroenterology and digestive specialists and other health care professionals. The conference featured presentations focusing on clinical updates in gastroenterology and hepatology as well as the latest advances in digestive health and gastrointestinal disorders.
In one study, Anthony Myint, M.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues found that routine colorectal cancer screening practices have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The authors performed a retrospective review of electronic health record information on screening test utilization. The researchers found that utilization of colonoscopy and the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) dropped tremendously in the wake of stay-at-home orders and the U.S. Surgeon General’s national recommendation to hold off on elective procedures.
“Interestingly, we saw a small uptick in the later weeks of the pandemic in the use of noninvasive FIT testing, but this was not enough to compensate for the overall drop in screening,” Myint said. “Colorectal cancer screening has suffered dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly due to the decrease in colonoscopy use, but noninvasive testing such as FIT offers a potential solution that should be utilized more.”
In a retrospective single-center study at a large tertiary care hospital, Mohammad Siddiqui, M.D., of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and colleagues found that patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who manifest liver injury have adverse clinical outcomes.
The authors evaluated the associated risk factors and clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients when they manifested liver injury. The analysis included COVID-19 patients hospitalized between March 1 and April 30, 2020. Data on baseline characteristics and clinical outcomes were collected during manual chart review. The researchers found that liver injury occurred in 20.5 percent of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Men and African-Americans with COVID-19 were more likely to develop liver injury. In addition, compared with COVID-19 patients who had normal liver enzyme levels, patients who manifested liver injury were also at significantly increased risk for mortality as well as other poor clinical outcomes, including intensive care unit (ICU) admission, intubation, 30-day readmission, and longer length of hospitalization and ICU stay.
“Further research looking at risk prediction models and pooling multicenter data should include liver injury as a key variable,” Siddiqui said. “Clinicians caring for patients with COVID-19 should consider routinely monitoring liver enzymes as that may assist with risk stratification and medical decision-making.”