Gastrointestinal (Digestive) conditions
Gastrointestinal problems involve a number of disorders which typically originate from the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder or pancreas. These disorders may include:
Most of us experience gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or constipation. These common symptoms often occur without any underlying disease, and can be typically attributed to stress, inadequate exercise, routine changes, dietary changes or food allergies.
However, gastrointestinal problems can cause a variety of other symptoms, including:
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Abdominal pain, bloating or swelling
- Jaundiced, itchy skin
- Loss of appetite
- Unplanned weight loss
Since digestive symptoms can vary in severity and frequency, depending on the underlying condition, they can last briefly and disappear quickly. Or, they can persist or recur over a longer period of time; i.e., colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. It’s important to have your physician or specialist (such as a gastroenterologist) perform an evaluation when you are experiencing any frequent or recurring symptoms; dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, bloody stool, or major rectal bleeding. These symptoms can indicate a serious, potentially life-threatening condition.
Your doctor will first conduct a complete medical history and physical examination. An accurate diagnosis of your digestive disorder can only occur when other disorders or medical conditions, or medications, have been ruled out which may be causing or aggravating the condition.
Your physician or specialist may use any or all of the following diagnostic tests to assist in developing a treatment plan for your condition:
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests. X-rays, CT scans, MRI, PET scans
- Endoscopy. A lighted instrument used to view the stomach or intestines; a biopsy may be taken for further testing.
- Enteroclysis. A thin tube is passed through the mouth or nose, down the esophagus, and through the stomach to the small intestine. Barium is sent through the tube and x-rays are taken of the intestines.
- Barium enema. Also known as a lower GI series; a barium solution is placed into the colon, and x-rays are taken.
- Barium swallow. Also known as an upper GI series; the barium solution is used to coat the inner lining of the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine, and x-rays are taken.
- Small bowel follow-through. Used to check the small intestine; x-rays are taken at regular intervals during a barium swallow test as the solution passes through the intestines.
In some cases, your physician may suggest a few simple measures to determine if your symptoms will subside: an increase in dietary fiber; exercise; avoiding foods that trigger the symptoms; or medications (i.e., over-the-counter or prescription medications for acid reflux). Your doctor may recommend surgery as a more advanced treatment measure.
Gastrointestinal procedures performed by Summa surgeons include:
- Cecectomy (bowel surgery)
- Colectomy (colon surgery)
- Enterocolectomy/Enterostomy (intestinal surgery)
- Hemicolectomy (colon surgery)
- Illeocolectomy (intestinal surgery)
- Jejunectomy (intestinal surgery)
- Polyp removal
- Rectopexy (rectal prolapse)
At Summa, we take a comprehensive approach to surgical treatment, from open procedures to the latest minimally invasive, robotic-assisted surgery techniques. Use of minimally-invasive, robotic-assisted techniques allows delicate and complex procedures such as pancreatic and gall bladder surgeries to be safely performed while providing patients such benefits as less post-operative pain, faster recovery times, less bleeding and less scarring.
Minimally invasive robotic surgery may not be the best option for everyone. Your physician can explain all of the options available to treat your condition, including whether you’re a good candidate for minimally invasive robotic surgery.
Read more about Summa’s use of the daVinci robotic-assisted system for minimally invasive surgery.
To schedule an appointment with a Summa physician to discuss your gastrointestinal condition, click or call (800) 237-8662.