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Innovations improve the lives of patients with IBD

Posted by on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 in Around the Medical Center, Spring 2024 .

Two recent innovations — point-of-care intestinal ultrasound and functional medicine — are improving the lives of patients at the Vanderbilt Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Clinic.

Characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, IBD is a group of disorders that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Upper endoscopy and colonoscopy are used to diagnose IBD, and treatment focuses on reducing inflammation.

Colleagues in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition recently evaluated point-of-care intestinal ultrasound as a less-invasive and more efficient alternative to regular endoscopy screening.

Point-of-care ultrasonography is performed by a physician at the bedside and can quickly and accurately diagnose a wide range of medical conditions. The treating physician obtains and interprets these images synchronously, allowing for real time decision-making that can advance the patient’s treatment plan without delay.

Functional medicine is another innovation that can improve the quality of life for patients with IBD. This holistic, patient-centered approach to the management of chronic diseases considers a host of potential genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that may trigger or aggravate symptoms.

Dawn Beaulieu, MD, professor of Medicine, introduced functional medicine to the Vanderbilt IBD Clinic in 2019. She created a program that identifies triggers such as diet, stress and allergens, and which helps patients develop symptom-relieving strategies in all realms of their lives, including exercise, sleep and social relationships.

“Our goal is to help the patient create a plan to take control of their life,” she said.

– Bill Snyder, Carol Poston and Meredith Carr

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