Care and Treatment of Digestive Disorders
Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat diseases of the stomach, intestines and related organs, including the esophagus, stomach, liver and pancreas.
Care is available at St. Mary’s Gastroenterology for a wide range of conditions, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Bloating or gas
- Blood in vomit or stool
- Difficulty swallowing
Testing for Gastrointestinal Problems
Diagnosing your symptoms is the first step to obtaining successful treatment. A St. Mary’s gastroenterologist will likely do a combination of the following: review your medical history, conduct a physical exam and order lab tests.
Treating Acid Reflux Disease
Our gastroenterologist offers advanced treatment options to help reduce chronic heartburn and acid reflux disease. Acid reflux disease, which is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common condition. When people eat, food passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus. After food has passed into the stomach, a ring of muscle fibers called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) prevents food from moving backward into the esophagus. If the LES doesn’t close completely, food, liquid and stomach acid can leak back into the esophagus. This is called reflux or gastroesophageal reflux, which can cause heartburn and even damage the esophagus.
A colonoscopy is a procedure used to look inside the large intestine. It enables the physician to examine the entire colon and rectum for polyps (small growths that can become cancerous over time). During a colonoscopy, a thin, flexible tube with a small camera is gently eased into the colon by the physician. A small amount of air is puffed into the colon to keep it open and let the physician see clearly. The exam takes about 30 minutes. Patients are usually given medicine to help them relax during the procedure.
Sometimes a doctor will perform sigmoidoscopy instead of a colonoscopy. In this procedure, a physician looks only at the lower part of the colon and the rectum for signs of cancer or polyps. Because the scope used is only about two feet long, the physician is able to see the entire rectum but less than half of the colon. The physician uses a thin, flexible, hollow, lighted tube that has a tiny video camera on the end called a sigmoidoscope. The sigmoidoscope is gently eased inside the colon while the patient is under anesthesia, and sends pictures to a monitor. Small amounts of air are puffed into the colon to keep it open and let the physician see clearly.
To evaluate symptoms of upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing, your doctor may recommend upper endoscopy, which enables the physician to examine the lining of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. This is the best test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper GI tract. It’s also more accurate than X-ray films for detecting inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The physician uses a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope, which has its own lens and light source, and views the images on a video monitor.