As patients demand greater access to interventional and minimally invasive digestive care treatments, clinicians must be knowledgeable on the newest technologies and innovations. These are the market forces of healthcare at work. – Dr. Michel Kahaleh.

NewYork-Presbyterian, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Weill Cornell Medical College are pleased to extend an invitation to the Third Annual Peter D. Stevens Course on Innovations in Digestive Care accredited course to be held on April 10th and April 11th in New York City. The Co-Directors, Dr. Frank G. Gress, Dr. Michel Kahaleh, Dr. Amrita Sethi, and Dr. Robbyn Sockolow, recently met to discuss the rational behind this year’s program. What follows is a summarized transcript of their conversation.


Question: What is the history behind the Third Annual Peter D. Stevens Course on Innovations in Digestive Care?

Answer: The course is a tribute to Dr. Peter D. Stevens, a beloved leader in the field of digestive care. Dr. Stevens was a faculty member of the GI Division of NYP/Columbia University Medical Center who died three years ago.

Q: How is the Digestive Care course structured?

A: The course is divided into three-hour sessions covering the esophagus, pancreas, GI lumen, colon & rectum, and the hepatobiliary system. The sessions are held at separate times so participants can attend all five. The course is taught through didactic sessions, hands-on animal tissue labs, and live cases sessions.

Q: What is the advantage to having a course on the entire digestive system?

A: Gastroenterological clinicians treat and diagnose all parts of the digestive system. Patients will at times present with more than one gastrointestinal condition. Since the technologies and procedures used to treat these are similar, it only makes sense to combine these topics into one program.

Q: What is the value of live cases sessions?

A: Unforeseen complications or challenges can occur during a live case and attendees can see how experts in the field manage these. This wouldn’t happen during a lecture or a prepared demonstration.

Q: How are the live cases sessions organized?

A: The live cases aren’t always known ahead of time. The hospital would never delay the care of a patient for the sake of a course. But being a tertiary care institution, NYP/Columbia is presented with complex cases daily. This provides for interesting learning experiences that would not be available elsewhere.

Q: Where will the course be held?

A: This year, the course will on the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center campus in northern Manhattan. NYP/Columbia is fortunate to have a start-of-the-art endoscopic lab and a brand new endoscopic suite. Attending clinicians can learn how to use equipment that may not be available in their offices or centers.

An example would be the new SpyGlass Direct Visualization System used for cholangioscopy. This is a 6,000 megapixel fiber optic cable used to image the bile and pancreatic ducts. When using this scope, physicians have better views of the diseased areas, can more accurately diagnose and in some cases intervene in one procedure.

Another exciting technology for presentation will be Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy (CLE). CLE allows for the viewing of cells in the body as if they were under a microscope. Cancers can be seen at earlier stages without the need for a biopsy.

Q: What will be covered in this year’s presentations and cases?

A: Dr. Sethi is presenting on “Endoscopic Innovations in Bariatric Surgery.” This will include endoscopic methods to treat complications arising from bariatric surgeries, as well as primary endoscopic procedures for weight loss.

Endoscopic Submucosal Dissection (ESD) will be discussed and might be part of a live case. Used mostly in the bowel, ESD allows for the removal of submucosal tissue down to the muscle level by a needle knife. This is state of the art care in Asia but new to the United States. As a minimally invasive procedure, patients can avoid the risks of open surgery.

Dr. Kahaleh will discuss and demonstrate Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM). In the past, many achalasia patients were treated with balloon dilation or open surgical procedures. POEM treats achalasia by making an incision in the muscles and the lower sphincter of the esophagus. This allows the muscle to relax and opens the lumen.

Q: What else would be important to know about this year’s course?

An important part of this year’s course is the large number of medical industry supporters. To prevent any conflicts of interest, every GI related company was invited to participate. Attending physicians can see and use all digestive care device technologies on the market.

For more information about the Third Annual Peter D. Stevens Course on Innovations in Digestive Care contact Jessica Scully at 212-304-7817 or at


In honor of February being “heart month,” the February 21, 2014 episode of ABC’s The View, entitled “Barbara’s Heart to Heart,” featured Emile Bacha, MD, Director, Congenital and Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian.

In this episode, Dr. Bacha escorts Barbara Walters through the hospital where she underwent heart surgery four years ago. She says that while most of us think of heart disease as affecting adults, babies can have heart disease too. Dr. Bacha introduces her to three such patients in the pediatric surgery ward, which treats children born with serious heart defects from before birth up to age 18.

According to Dr. Bacha, 99% of patients recover “very well” after surgery for congenital heart defects. But the team’s goal is not merely recovery. “Most are able to live normal lives and participate in sports and other activities. That is very important to us,” says Dr. Bacha.

In his typical modest style, Dr. Bacha says, “I am just the front person. The real work is done by everybody else — it truly takes a team.”


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American Liver Foundation Honors Jean Emond, MD as Physician of the Year

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2013 Gigi Shaw Arledge Conference on Pancreatic Disease

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