Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), has increasingly been a focus of clinical attention at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. The multidisciplinary care needed by these patients has brought together surgeons, gastroenterologists, radiologists, nutritionists, and other sub-specialists to foster the creation of an IBD center focused on providing excellence in IBD patient care and promoting access to cutting-edge research and treatments. This initiative has been directed by Walter Koltun, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.S.C.R.S., chief, Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, and Emmanuelle Williams, M.D., assistant professor of medicine. Koltun explains, “The Penn State Hershey IBD Center has three major components that include a multidisciplinary patient care clinic where surgeons and gastroenterologists see patients together; educational and training programs for both medical professionals and patients; and, an IBD research program that includes benchtop basic science and clinical trials of new, investigative treatments.”
Part of what makes such a center so valuable is the collaborative nature of patient care. Patients with IBD often require complex management, involving clinicians in many different specialties. In a typical community care setting, these specialists have difficulty talking to one another in a timely, coordinated way about a given patient’s overall treatment plan. “Penn State Hershey IBD Center surgeons and gastroenterologists work side-by-side to develop integrated treatment plans for each IBD patient. They also draw upon additional experts who are immediately available within the Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine as the need arises,” says Koltun. These may include hepatologists, ophthalmologists, rheumatologists, nutritionists, and stomal therapists who have also made a commitment to caring for this special group of patients.
The number of IBD patients treated has grown steadily over the past years, approaching approximately 4,500 patients in 2012. The research conducted at the IBD Center is another crucial component of ongoing development. Research creates the opportunity for IBD patients to go beyond conventional care. Koltun comments, “We have encouraged a great deal of collaboration between academic and clinical researchers, as well as being involved in clinical trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. IBD patients who come to the Center not only receive the latest in conventional care but also have the option of enrolling in trials of new drug treatments which they otherwise would not have access to.” Patients cared for here are also offered enrollment in the IBD Center’s BioBank which stores serum, DNA, and tissue samples to fuel basic science investigations. Growing collaborations with Pennsylvania State University, Penn State College of Medicine, and other national IBD centers have resulted in the publication of ten original research articles in 2011 alone.
“Several key clinical initiatives have been implemented,” says Williams. “These include the increasing use of magnetic resonance imaging for evaluation of abdominal disease, chromoendoscopy for dysplasia surveillance in colitis patients, and the expansion of collaborative care paradigms for patients with pouchitis, perineal CD, and pyoderma gangrenosum.”
For more information about the IBD Center, visit PennStateHershey.org/IBD