Impact of COVID-19 on the diagnosis, assessment and management of children with inflammatory bowel disease in the UK: implications for practice.

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The assessment and management of patients with known, or suspected, paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (PIBD) has been hugely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although current evidence of the impact of COVID-19 infection in children with PIBD has provided a degree of reassurance, there continues to be the potential for significant secondary harm caused by the changes to normal working practices and reorganisation of services. Disruption to the normal running of diagnostic and assessment procedures, such as endoscopy, has resulted in the potential for secondary harm to patients including delayed diagnosis and delay in treatment. Difficult management decisions have been made in order to minimise COVID-19 risk for this patient group while avoiding harm. Initiating and continuing immunosuppressive and biological therapies in the absence of normal surveillance and diagnostic procedures have posed many challenges. Despite this, changes to working practices, including virtual clinic appointments, home faecal calprotectin testing kits and continued intensive support from clinical nurse specialists and other members of the multidisciplinary team, have resulted in patients still receiving a high standard of care, with those who require face-to-face intervention being highlighted. These changes have the potential to revolutionise the way in which patients receive routine care in the future, with the inclusion of telemedicine increasingly attractive for stable patients. There is also the need to use lessons learnt from this pandemic to plan for a possible second wave, or future pandemics as well as implementing some permanent changes to normal working practices. In this review, we describe the diagnosis, management and direct impact of COVID-19 in paediatric patients with IBD. We summarise the guidance and describe the implemented changes, evolving evidence and the implications of this virus on paediatric patients with IBD and working practices.

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Authors: Abbie Maclean, James J Ashton, Vikki Garrick, R Mark Beattie, Richard Hansen