Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in Abu Dhabi launches centre for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease

Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City is one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex health care. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex care and a joint-venture partnership between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) and Mayo Clinic, has officially launched its comprehensive centre for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). The new facility is unique in the UAE, offering differentiated care and is set to become the preeminent destination for IBD medical care in the region.

As part of its set of services, the SSMC IBD Centre has taken onboard a new dedicated, multidisciplinary team of experts that will be delivering surgical, endoscopic, nutritional, radiological, pharmaceutical and eventually behavioral health services, amongst others.

Dr Talha Malik, SSMC’s new director for the SSMC IBD Center, said: “Our aim is to keep our approach to IBD care patient-centric and comprehensive; creating a one-stop-shop for IBD care that caters to our patient’s specific treatment requirements.”

The SSMC IBD Centre has a team of specialised colorectal surgeons who offer the full gamut of surgical procedures, including minimally invasive and robotic surgery. This approach has a significant impact on patient outcome, reducing the risk of complications, pregnancy and fertility issues as well as improving future bowel function.

Dr Faek El Jamali

Dr Faek El Jamali, division chair of Colorectal Surgery, SSMC, said: “The close cooperation between gastroenterology and colorectal surgery specialists is an essential aspect of the comprehensive and patient-centred care that we aim to provide at the newly-established SSMC IBD centre. IBD is a unique and challenging disease. Patients benefit the most when they are seen and managed by a collaborative team of specialists from the outset to select the most appropriate treatment plan for every individual patient.”

Dr Michael Wallace, gastroenterology and hepatology consultant and division chair, SSMC, adds: “The endoscopic options provided by our centre are also valuable. IBD patients are at significantly greater risk of pre-cancerous lesions of the colon, which are typically difficult to see and remove.

Dr Michael Wallace

“We specialise in advanced methods of detection such as chromoendscopy (both digital and blue-dye) and the removal of these through endoscopes as opposed to surgery. We have already received patients who have been referred to us for surgery, but we can offer them a non-surgical removal of those lesions.”

A rarely available procedure at other UAE facilities is chromo colonoscopy, which is an area of expertise offered by the SSMC IBD Center. Chromo colonoscopy, or chromoendoscopy, is an adjunctive procedure which refers to the application of topical dying or digital optical filters during an endoscopy in order to identify otherwise difficult to see abnormalities.

Dr Talha Malik said: “In addition to our innovative and holistic approach, we’re actively seeking to create the first IBD consortium in Abu Dhabi. This registry will encompass every IBD patient in the emirate and will enable us to conduct robust observational research and put into place a clinical trials infrastructure that directly aims to address the needs of our local IBD patients.”

Dr Talha Malik

Another marked benefit for SSMC IBD patients will be their access to gender-preferred care. As part of SSMC’s ‘Where Women Take Care of Women’ campaign that ran during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, SSMC’s female endoscopists and colorectal surgeon spearheaded the practise of colonoscopies and colorectal care for female patients, offering reassurance and ‘comfortability’ as a means to increase participation in endoscopic screening.

A unique feature of the destination medical centre is comprehensive, integrated and holistic care. As such, we provide all key services, including medical, surgical as well as nutritional, advanced radiology, laboratory testing, ostomy care, and pharmacy under one roof in our modern state of the art facility.

Dr Michael Wallace, added: “With SSMC and Mayo Clinic’s collaborative, patient-centric approach, we’re in a position to draw from the strengths of our joint venture partnership, leveraging the learnings and successes we have had at our Mayo Clinic IBD centers internationally. Our doors are open. Anyone who comes to us with IBD, we’re ready to care for them.”

What is inflammatory bowel disease?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) represents a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract.

The digestive tract comprises the:

• Mouth

• Esophagus

• Stomach

• Small intestine

• Large intestine

The digestive tract is responsible for breaking down food, extracting the nutrients and removing any unusable material and waste products.

Inflammation anywhere along this digestive tract interferes with this normal process of digestion and absorbing nutrients and getting rid of any unwanted material in fod and food waste. IBD can be very painful and disruptive. In rare cases, it may even be life-threatening.

Many diseases are included under the umbrella term IBD. The two most common ones are ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease. UC involves inflammation of the large intestine. Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation in any part of the digestive tract. However, it mostly affects the tail end of the small intestine.