Once again at DDW®, the editors of AASLD’s flagships journals have organized a comprehensive update on important advances in liver disease. The three-hour session, Hepatology Update: The Year in Review, will be held Saturday afternoon, May 18.
Five hepatology experts will provide succinct reviews of treatments and ongoing research in portal hypertension, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), hepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and organ allocation for liver transplantation.
“The sole purpose of this update is to provide a succinct and comprehensive overview as the practice of hepatology is changing so rapidly,” said session co-moderator Paul Martin, MD, FAASLD, editor in chief of Liver Transplantation. “The most recent changes are reflected in the topics we have chosen for the year-in-review update this year.”
Dr. Martin will co-moderate the session with David E. Cohen, MD, FAASLD, editor in chief of HEPATOLOGY. The session is intended for all DDW attendees, not just hepatologists, but most liver care is provided by general gastroenterologists and midlevel practitioners, noted Dr. Cohen, professor and chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY.
Global changes in demographics, diet and other factors are pushing NAFLD to the forefront in hepatology. Fatty liver disease and its consequences are starting to dominate much of what hepatologists do on a daily basis, said Dr. Martin, professor and chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, FL.
“It’s becoming more important than ever before for all DDW attendees to more fully appreciate the etiology and the consequences of fatty liver disease,” he said. “There’s a growing number of agents moving through clinical trials and a growing variety of pharmacologic approaches. NAFLD is really dominating a lot of hepatology.”
Increasing NAFLD means increasing cirrhosis, and more cirrhosis means more portal hypertension.
“This session is all about the practical,” Dr. Martin continued. “Hepatologists, gastroenterologists and midlevel practitioners all deal with growing numbers of cirrhotic patients. They need to know how to anticipate and to deal with advanced complications of portal hypertension, such as varices and ascites.”
HCC is another important consequence of cirrhosis. Many patients with cirrhosis are first seen and managed by gastroenterologists and midlevel providers, not hepatologists. It’s important for all providers who deal with cirrhosis to understand the initial decisions related to therapeutic interventions, whether they continue to manage the patients themselves or refer them to hepatology or oncology.
Another key change is organ allocation for liver transplantation. It’s a complex topic and one that directly affects almost every gastroenterology practice, Dr. Martin said. Most gastroenterology practices are managing patients with cirrhosis who are going to require liver transplantation at some point, he pointed out, and recent changes in organ allocation are likely to make a practical difference to patient care.
“What we hope to do through the course of Saturday afternoon is to give people updates in these key areas so they can apply them to their own clinical practice as soon as they are back in the office,” Dr. Martin said. “This course is the one opportunity for a comprehensive update in liver disease that is germane to clinical practice at all levels.”