Digestive conditions, like acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), are some of the most common illnesses experienced in the United States. In fact, an estimated 22.4 million people visit a physician with diseases of the digestive system as their primary diagnosis each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gastroenterologists are experts in treating a broad range of conditions affecting the digestive tract. In addition, they have specialized training in endoscopy, which is a minimally invasive procedure that allows a gastroenterologist to look at the digestive tract using an endoscope — a long, thin tube with a camera on the end. This procedure is used to diagnose diseases of the digestive tract.
Many common digestive diseases can be managed or prevented with lifestyle modifications and medication, but if symptoms persist and are severe, additional diagnostic tests and treatments may be needed. That’s when patients can benefit from the expertise of an interventional gastroenterologist.
At Long Beach Medical Center, I am one of two interventional gastroenterologists who have additional training (beyond that of a general gastroenterologist) and can perform advanced endoscopy procedures, outside the scope of a normal endoscopy.
We use the latest technology and devices to ensure that any digestive abnormality can be detected, even those that a regular endoscopy may miss. We use these advanced techniques to not only diagnose, but treat a range of digestive conditions such as GERD, cancers affecting the digestive tract, gallstones, ulcers, anal fistulas and more.
Many of the advanced endoscopy treatments we offer allow you to avoid traditional surgery. Because these procedures are minimally invasive, our patients don’t have to stay in the hospital overnight, their overall recovery is quicker and there is no scarring.
For patients with a mass or suspected cancer in the digestive tract, we use a technique called endoscopic ultrasound or EUS. This is a minimally invasive imaging technique that uses sound waves to create a computer image of the inside of the esophagus and stomach. The endoscope is guided in through the mouth and into the stomach. This allows us to view inside the body and remove a sample of tissue (biopsy) all at once.
We can not only diagnose cancer, but stage it, which includes determining if it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs. Typically to get this kind of detail, a patient would need to undergo surgery. Instead, this procedure is similar to the experience a patient has when undergoing a colonoscopy.
Long Beach Medical Center is one of only a few hospitals in the region to offer advanced endoscopy services. This level of care is rare to find at a community-based hospital, and is typically only offered at academic institutions.
If you’ve been struggling with nagging digestive symptoms, talk to your doctor to see if a referral to Long Beach Medical Center for advanced endoscopy services is right for you. Visit memorialcare.org/ComplexGI to learn more.
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