Q&A with Hayat Mousa, MD

Published on in CHOP News

Hayat Mousa, MD Hayat Mousa, MD Meet Hayat Mousa, MD, the new Director of the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility and a pediatric gastroenterologist in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She also holds the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Endowed Chair for Clinical Care of GI Motility Disorders.

Dr. Mousa started at CHOP on Sept. 1, 2020, after serving as Clinical Director of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Director of the Neurogastroenterology and Motility Center at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, Calif., and working at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. She is a national leader and world-renowned expert in pediatric gastrointestinal motility disorders.

Dr. Mousa recently sat down for an informal Q&A to talk about her vision for CHOP’s GI Motility Center, what areas she’d like to expand, why she enjoys working with children with motility conditions, and much more.

Q: What is your vision for the Center for GI Motility?

A: Our mission is to bring precision cures to children with motility and functional GI disorders, to walk the healing journey with them, and to secure their safe transition to adulthood.

Some of our Center goals for the next five years include:

Program development

  • Creating a Care Model for Gastroparesis and expanding testing options, such as Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (HRVB), Percutaneous Electric Nerve Field Stimulation (PENFS) and Body Surface Gastric Mapping (BSGM)
  • Helping establish a BSGM Consortium with other leading motility and bioengineering centers
  • Establishing an interdisciplinary outpatient Day Program for feeding rehabilitation
  • Optimizing access to our Pediatric Colorectal Program

Education and training

  • Establishing a GME-approved Advanced Motility Fellowship within 6-12 months
  • Establishing a Motility Research Fellowship within 12-18 months
  • Collaborating with the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) to create a curriculum for dual training in adult and pediatric motility disorders

Research and innovation

  • Launching body surface mapping for patients with gastroparesis and functional GI disorders and offering precise cures tailored toward the individual patient’s condition
  • Developing a biorepository for patients with motility disorders and establishing phenotype/genotype matching to their GI motility disorders
  • Launching a neuromodulation center for gastrointestinal motility and functional disorders

Q: What type of motility research would you like to focus on at CHOP?

A: We have ambitious research goals spanning a number of different treatment modalities including:

  • BSGM in patients with gastroparesis and other motility disorders
  • HRVB for patients with low vagal tone and dysautonomia
  • Gastric electrical body stimulation and percutaneous electrical nerve field stimulation (PENS) to treat patients with intractable nausea and dyspeptic symptoms
  • Posterior tibial nerve stimulation, sacral nerve stimulation, TAMS and TNT for patients with defecation disorders and fecal incontinence
  • Virtual reality for motility testing

By collaborating with CHOP’s Aerodigestive Pediatric Airway Frontier Program, we can also offer new dimensions in the management of esophageal diseases, swallowing disorders and reflux management.

Q: How can CHOP’s GI Motility team share its knowledge with the next generation of practitioners?

A: We recently launched an Advanced GI Motility Fellowship, a 1-year advanced training program that will offer clinical depth and opportunities for translational research in motility disorders. Fellows will work with experts from the Center for GI Motility and the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Our first fellows will start in July 2021.

Q: What do you like most about working with children with GI motility disorders?

A: Neurogastroenterology and motility is still a developing field with significant needs for discovery and innovation. I enjoy and deeply value the privilege of partnering with parents in the care for their children. This patient population is special and dear to my heart. I am very blessed to be at CHOP, where I can offer my patients more than I could have anywhere else in the country. Our journey here is not limited to the diagnostic arm, but extends to offer an arm of support and cure.

Q: Is there a specific condition or treatment that interests you from a research or clinical perspective?

A: I’m interested in gastroparesis and dyspepsia, swallowing disorders, esophageal dysfunction and colorectal disorders.

Q: Can you describe a personal or professional breakthrough in your life? How does it impact your work today?

A: One of the highlights of my career was when we came up with gastric electrical stimulation (GES or gastric pacemaker) to treat a beautiful 16-year-old young lady with gastroparesis. The patient traveled from her home state to Ohio, where I was practicing at the time. The patient had a debilitating stomach condition that was affecting the way her body processed food, leaving her so disabled that she couldn’t attend school or perform typical activities of daily living. After I evaluated her motility, I offered GES.

I collaborated with our surgeon Dr. Steven Teich and implanted a temporary — and later permanent — gastric pacemaker into the patient’s abdomen, with electrical wires leading to the stomach. The pacemaker sent electrical impulses to stimulate the stomach after eating. GES settings can be changed as needed to empty the stomach and prevent bloating, vomiting and nausea. Within a couple of weeks of the GES implant, the patient was up and running.

The success of that therapy really triggered my interest in this type of innovative therapy and led to my work with bioengineering, and continued research into new ways to help better manage gastroparesis in patients.

This breakthrough work has had a direct impact on the work I’m doing today at CHOP, including:

  • Optimizing conventional electrogastrography (EGG) when appropriate
  • Utilizing newer tools like non-invasive BSGM
  • Better evaluating gastric electrical activity to determine where problems may exist and finding creative ways to help patients resume typical activities

Q: How can CHOP’s GI Motility Center partner with other physicians?

A: We’ve been working to improve access to our partnering clinicians, referring physicians and families through in-person, phone and video visits. We are making referrals easier to process, so we can see patients sooner. We’re also expanding access to our experts on the web, and providing feedback and follow-up to patients and referrers. We hope to establish an annual meeting with referring physicians and referring GI specialists to share our disease-specific guidelines and pathways about how to treat and manage certain conditions in standardized ways to improve outcomes and reduce costs.

Q: How can integrative health programs at CHOP help patients with GI motility disorders?

A: Our team works closely with Maria R. Mascarenhas, MBBS, Director of the Integrative Health Program, and her team to offer integrative health tools — such as hypnosis, mindfulness, acupuncture and yoga — to patients with motility and functional GI disorders while they are admitted to the hospital or at our outpatient facilities. Integrative health modalities offer symptomatic relief of painful, debilitating and embarrassing symptoms of GI disorders, and can improve copying skills.

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