18th Congress of ECCO: Overview of Scientific and Educational Programmes

Brigida Barberio and Alessandro Armuzzi, ECCO NEWS EDITORS

Brigida Barberio
© Brigida Barberio

Alessandro Armuzzi

Dear IBD Colleagues and Friends, 

After the previous two editions of our Annual Congress had to be conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we once again had the opportunity to share and exchange knowledge and ideas in person during the 18th Congress of ECCO, held from March 1-4, 2023. This was really exciting!

First, the Educational Programme, which was scheduled prior to the official start of the ECCO Congress, covered activities for ECCO's different interest groups, including young gastroenterologists, surgeons, paediatricians, pathologists, IBD Nurses and allied health professionals and scientists. The Programme included two exciting imaging courses offered in collaboration with ESGAR & IBUS, the School for Clinical Trialists and our Basic Science and SciCom Workshops. 

Getting to the heart of our meeting, this year’s Congress was structured around the theme “Sequencing in IBD”, with both clinicians and researchers focusing on this salient topic. Given that an ever-increasing number of therapeutic options are becoming available for our patients, knowledge of the optimal sequencing of treatments is of paramount importance. The first plenary session accordingly focused on treatment sequencing in moderate to severe UC and CD as well as on the correct management in patients with postoperative recurrence.

Inevitably, we discussed how we can do better with the currently available drugs, exploring the concept of biobetters and examining the personalisation of treatment, including with respect to prediction of drug response. But are we really modifying the natural course of IBD with the current drugs? Is surgery associated with a lower recurrence rate than medical treatment in CD? We tried to answer these questions on the basis of excellent lectures and tandem talks.  

Diagnosis and management of IBD requires a lifelong multidisciplinary approach;, therefore, through with another expert tandem talk between a gastroenterologist and a surgeon, we addressed the need for an optimiszation of surgical outcomes. In addition, we discussed past, present and future perspectives in the radiological evaluation of fibrosis in CD and UC and considered how we can better prevent and treat fibrosis, which represents a difficult challenge in clinical practice.

We are seeing the dawn of a new era in endoscopy in which the application of artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise IBD diagnosis and management. We discussed the state-of-the-art of endoscopic techniques and their applicability in accurately assessing endoscopic and histological remission, predicting response to therapy, and detecting and guiding the treatment of colonic dysplastic lesions. 

Moreover, we focused on the epidemiology and clinical features of the vascular complications of IBD, the hypercoagulable state and the role of acquired and inherited prothrombotic factors in the development of thromboembolism in IBD, and therapeutic considerations.

Interestingly, in another session conducted in collaboration with ESNM, we examined the problem of IBS-type symptoms, such as abdominal pain, in patients with IBD in remission. Such symptoms increase the likelihood of consultation and repeated investigation, resulting in impairments of quality of life similar to those in IBD patients with confirmed disease activity. 

A session on basic science is surely a must-have at our Congress. This year, we explored the use of intestinal organoids as an ultimate tool, for example, to understand host–microbial interactions in IBD. 

Finally, there were informative talks on the ECCO Guidelines on Extraintestinal Manifestations, including Anaemia, and on the ECCO Topical Review “Road map to optimal peri-operative care in IBD”, the latter providing valuable practice recommendations. 

Dear friends, it proved a great and valuable experience to meet face to face once again! But do not worry, if you missed our Congress or would like to re-watch some of the content, we kindly ask you to visit our e-Library, where all the recordings can be found. 

Moreover, you can find the ten best abstracts (presented as digital oral presentations) selected by our experts here: https://www.ecco-ibd.eu/abstracts-2023/ecco-abstract-awards-2023.html.

We look forward to meeting again next year in Stockholm!

Best wishes,

Brigida and Alessandro

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    Posted in ECCO News, ECCO'23, Volume 18, Issue 1