We diagnose and treat a number of gastrointestinal disorders that generally stem from diet, environment and/or heredity. Our staff members carefully assess each patient's symptoms and condition, and assist the physician in pinpointing and treating the problem.
In cases where a diagnostic procedure clearly detects a polyp, tumor or gallstone, we can remove or biopsy it. If a blockage is detected, such as food stuck in your esophagus, we can remove it. The most common conditions we treat are abnormalities of the colon.
Other conditions we treat:
Chronic Liver Disorder – Usually, liver function tests (LFT) are first done to determine the general health of the liver. If those results are persistently abnormal, a biopsy may be ordered.
Colon Cancer – Almost always starts with a polyp, a small growth on the lining of the colon or rectum (parts of the digestive tract).
Crohn's Disease – Crohn's and a related disease (ulcerative colitis) are the main divisions of the group of illnesses called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Their symptoms are very similar, and both involve an abnormal immune response. Crohn's is a chronic disease that usually affects the end of the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine, but it can also involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include loose bowel movements or abdominal pain, bleeding or fever.
Gallstones – Gallstones can form and become trapped in the main bile duct.
Gastritis – Inflammation of the lining of the stomach.
GERD – Frequent or chronic heartburn (more than twice a week) may be part of a more serious condition known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD can lead to more serious medical problems such as difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), narrowing of the esophagus (strictures) or Barrett's Esophagus.
Pancreatitis – Inflammation of the pancreas.
Ulcers – Ulcers can develop in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum. Occasionally ulcers can be malignant.
Ulcerative Colitis – Similar to Crohn's disease (see definition for Crohn's), ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, it only affects the colon, characterized by inflammation and ulceration of the colon's innermost lining. Symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal pain.
The Mercy Digestive Health Center offers inpatient and outpatient procedures.
- The most common procedures we offer are the colonoscopy and gastroscopy.
- A colonoscopy is used in routine screenings of the colon for cancer or polyps, or to pinpoint the cause of abnormal symptoms such as anemia; bleeding lesions; abdominal pain; chronic diarrhea, constipation or changes in bowel habits. It can also detect ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulosis/diverticulitis, and hemorrhoids.
- A colonoscopy can both identify and correct a problem in the colon. It involves visual examination of the large intestine (colon), using a lighted, flexible video endoscope.
- The American Cancer Society recommends anyone reaching age 50 – men and women – have a screening colonoscopy. If a family member has had colon cancer, the ACS recommends having this screening test done sooner.
- A gastroscopy or EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) is a visual exam of the upper intestinal tract using a lighted, flexible video endoscope. This procedure detects abnormalities in the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (part of the small bowel).
- A gastroscopy is used to diagnose or treat ulcers in the esophagus, stomach and duodenum; tumors of the stomach or esophagus; swallowing problems; upper abdominal pain; intestinal bleeding; heartburn; and gastritis.
Other procedures we offer include:
ERCP – ERCP stands for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. In this procedure, dye is injected into the bile and pancreatic ducts and X-rays are taken. This procedure helps detect and/or correct a problem with gallstones; blockages of the bile duct; pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); cancer of the pancreas or bile ducts; jaundice; and undiagnosed upper-abdominal pain. If a gallstone is found, it is removed during this exam. Blockage of the bile duct can also be relieved.
Esophageal Manometry – This diagnostic procedure pinpoints any swallowing problems within the esophagus by evaluating the muscular coordination inside the esophagus.
Capsule Endoscopy – This diagnostic procedure detects diseases of the three portions of the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum and ileum). The patient ingests a vitamin pill-sized video capsule, which travels through the body, relaying images to a data recorder worn by the patient for about eight hours. The physician then reviews the images to determine causes for recurrent symptoms (abdominal pain, bleeding, diarrhea or anemia).
Bravo pH Monitoring System - A diagnostic tool used to find the cause of chronic heartburn or indigestion. To detect causes, the pH levels in the patient's esophagus must be measured. Usually this means placing a catheter down the patient's nose and into the esophagus, which can cause discomfort. However, Mercy Digestive Health Center uses the Bravo pH system, which is catheter-free. A pH capsule is attached to the esophagus, measuring pH levels for 24 to 48 hours. The information is transmitted to a pager-sized receiver worn on a belt; the data is then analyzed by the physician. Appropriate treatment – usually including diet changes – can then be prescribed.
Liver Biopsy – A liver biopsy is an outpatient procedure in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the patient's liver, and then studied by the physician under a microscope to help with diagnosis. This can help diagnose viral infections; reactions to drugs or alcohol; tumors; hereditary conditions; and problems of the immune system.