The annual Digestive Disease Week, sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract was held virtually this year from May 21 to 23 and attracted participants from around the world, including researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy, and gastrointestinal surgery.

In one study, Dilhana Badurdeen, M.D., of Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues found that Black patients undergoing Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) or sleeve gastrectomy (SG) experienced improved weight-loss outcomes but had a higher risk for postoperative morbidity and surgical complications compared with White patients.

The authors performed a retrospective review of the 2015 to 2019 Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program database to identify patients undergoing RYGB and SG. The researchers found that compared with White patients, Black patients experienced improved weight-loss outcomes at 30 days after surgery but had a higher risk for increased morbidity and adverse events. These findings were independent of comorbid conditions at baseline and surgery type or characteristics.

“More studies are needed to identify factors that may contribute to differences in weight loss outcomes as well as adverse events,” Badurdeen said.

Abstract No. 2

In another study, David Carr-Locke, M.D., of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and colleagues found that all respirator-type masks (N95s and KN95s) were very effective at blocking particles of all sizes, even particles smaller than the standard 0.3-micron aerosols used to test them and give them their “95 percent” designation.

The authors used an electrical low-pressure impactor to quantify the number and sizes of particles generated by the nebulizer and transmitted through various types of masks. The device allowed separation of particles into 14 different sizes from 0.01 microns to 10 microns by pulling air through a test mask and sampling the air every second. In addition to finding all respirator-type masks to be effective at blocking particles of all sizes, the researchers found that a standard surgical mask material was also effective. However, it cannot be equated to a respirator mask because it is not tightly fitted to the face. Furthermore, the investigators found that homemade and commercial cloth masks were very poor at blocking particle transmission.

“Until we know exactly what particles a patient may produce during endoscopy (study in progress), all staff should wear respirator masks during and after procedures,” Carr-Locke said. “Surgical masks are probably adequate in low aerosol areas and cloth masks should never be worn in a clinical setting.”

Abstract No. Su008

Daniele Noviello, M.D., of the University of Milan, and colleagues found that mild gastrointestinal symptoms persist five months after severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, and that SARS-CoV-2 infection increases the risk for chronic fatigue and somatoform disorders in patients with diarrhea during the acute phase of the infection.

In their study, the authors included SARS-CoV-2-positive and -negative patients at the time of nose pharyngeal swab, who were ages 18 to 60 years and were tested between February and April 2020 at a hospital in Milan. All the participants were contacted almost five months after infection by an email and were directed via a link to an online structured questionnaire. The questionnaire combined several other validated questionnaires investigating gastrointestinal, extraintestinal somatoform, and psychological symptoms. The researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with chronic fatigue, mild functional gastrointestinal symptoms, and somatoform disorders.

“SARS-CoV-2 infection may affect the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain, linking emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions,” Noviello said. “Chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal, and somatoform symptoms should be investigated in the follow-up of SARS-CoV-2 patients, in particular in subjects reporting diarrhea in the acute phase.”

Abstract No. 782

Sonia Grego, Ph.D., of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues developed a Smart Toilet technology, which through artificial intelligence and machine learning, automatically identifies important characteristics of stool, such as form, color, and presence of blood.

The researchers used 3,328 pictures of stool to inform the Smart Toilet algorithm. Gastroenterologists classified the images according to all seven levels of the Bristol Stool Scale and also broadly categorized them as loose, normal, and constipated. A computationally efficient machine-learning algorithm was developed, and concordance was compared between the algorithm and the determination of the gastroenterologists. The researchers found that the algorithm and human interpretation was in agreement about stool shape 85 percent of the time. In addition, the algorithm detected blood in stool more than 75 percent of the time.

“This is a proof-of-concept study and it is an important component for the development of a technology that will benefit patients and clinicians. The technology will be a digital health tool (an app enabled by a custom hardware) that tracks your stool so you do not have to,” Grego said. “This approach is a superior alternative to the burden of tracking: the analytics will track individuals at baseline and provide an alert when a deviation occurs for targeted informed interventions.”

Abstract No. Sa652

DDW: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Severity Symptoms Improved in Lockdown

MONDAY, May 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms improved during the mandatory lockdown in Argentina compared with a prepandemic period, according to a study presented at the 2021 Digestive Disease Week, held virtually from May 21 to 23.

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DDW: Alcohol-Related GI, Liver Diseases Up During Pandemic

TUESDAY, May 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The number of inpatient consults for alcohol-related gastrointestinal and liver diseases has surged since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study presented at the 2021 Digestive Disease Week, held virtually from May 21 to 23.

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DDW: Semaglutide May Up Weight Loss After Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty

MONDAY, May 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Following minimally invasive endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty with semaglutide therapy may boost weight loss, according to a study presented at the 2021 Digestive Disease Week, held virtually from May 21 to 23.

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