Gastroenterology: Tests & Procedures
The 48-hour Bravo Esophageal pH test is a minimally invasive procedure that measures and records the pH in your esophagus to assess for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It requires attachment of a small capsule, about the size of a gel cap, to the esophageal wall. Bravo is the first catheter-free pH monitoring system that allows the patient to maintain regular diet and activities.
Over the span of two days, the device measures pH levels with the device transmitting readings to a pager-sized receiver that can be worn on a belt or waistband similar to a mobile phone. Patients will be given a journal where they record reflux symptoms, such as coughing, heartburn, regurgitation, etc. The test measures how often stomach contents reflux into the lower esophagus and how much acid the reflux contains.
Once the two days are up, patients return the journal and the Bravo receiver. The test data is then uploaded to a computer and analyzed by your doctor to diagnose your condition. Several days after the test, the capsule naturally falls off the wall of your esophagus and passes through your digestive tract.
Capsule Endoscopy, or “Pill Cam,” is a procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of your digestive tract. The camera sits inside a vitamin-size capsule that you swallow. As the capsule travels through your digestive tract, the camera takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder that is worn around your waist.
Capsule Endoscopy helps doctors see inside your small intestine and is primarily used to explore unexplained bleeding in the small intestine. Capsule Endoscopy can also diagnose inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, cancer and celiac disease.
A diagnostic colonoscopy is for patients with a history of gastrointestinal symptoms or disease, polyps or cancer. Diagnostic colonoscopies are used when patients exhibit specific symptoms, such as rectal bleeding or abdominal pain, that may indicate colon cancer or other issues. This procedure allows the gastroenterologist to examine the colon with the use of a colonoscope – a thin, flexible instrument with a light source that transmits the image of the colon for visualization. This procedure is effective in the diagnosis and evaluation of GI disorders.
Direct Access Screening Colonoscopy
The Direct Access Colonoscopy program is a quick and convenient way to schedule a screening colonoscopy. Through this program, patients can skip the initial visit with a gastroenterologist and schedule a procedure if they meet certain criteria such as:
- Age 45 or over
- If you have a family history of colon cancer, are 40 or older and have not been screened
- If you have no significant heart, lung, liver or kidney disease (ask our nurse for details)
- If you are not on blood-thinning medications other than routine aspirin use (ask our nurse for details)
- Must not have a history of stroke or blood clots
- Must not have active asthma
EGD (Upper Endoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy)
An EGD is an examination that enables your physician to examine the upper digestive tract including your esophagus, stomach and duodenum by using an endoscope that is a flexible tube with a light and camera to search for irritations, ulcers or other abnormal growths. The EGD is a popular diagnostic option among patients as it is well tolerated and causes minimal discomfort.
FibroScan, also known as transient elastography, is a non-invasive test that assesses the health of your liver. FibroScan is a quick and painless procedure as it utilizes ultrasound technology to measure fibrosis (scarring) that may be present in the liver. Sedation or special preparation is not required for this procedure and patients are able to leave as soon as the procedure is complete. Your doctor will interpret the results and assist with treatment plans or further testing, if needed. Your doctor is able to tell you more about your condition and prescribe a treatment plan, so you can move towards a plan for treatment.
Fibroscan is an important test for fatty liver disease, because when left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to other life-threatening diseases, like cirrhosis, where the liver can no longer function properly. This tool tells your doctor more about your condition and prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy, commonly called a “flex sig,” is an examination that allows your physician to examine the lining of the rectum and a portion of the colon. This examination is performed by inserting a small tube into the rectum and advancing it to the lower part of the colon to look for abnormalities.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy can help a doctor find the cause of unexplained symptoms, such as: bleeding from your anus, changes in bowel activity, abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss.
Doctors also use flexible sigmoidoscopy as a screening tool for colon polyps and colon and rectal cancer. Screening may find diseases at an early stage, when a doctor has a better chance of curing the disease.
The H. pylori breath test is a quick and simple test to test for Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, a common, persistent infection that can live in the stomach for years. The infection affects two-thirds of the world’s population and is a major cause for peptic ulcer disease. Its presence also increases your risk of gastritis and stomach cancer.
During an office exam, you will be asked to provide a baseline breath sample, then drink a Pranactin®-Citric drug solution, which will help detect signs of H. pylori infection. Wait 15 minutes. Then, we’ll have you provide a second breath sample.
The breath samples will be measured using an in-house diagnostic device called a POCone® Infrared Spectrophotometer. Results are available within a few minutes and the physician will discuss them with you at that time. If you test positive for H. pylori infection, you will be treated with antibiotics and will be asked to return for testing again in four weeks.
Infusion therapy is given intravenously and is primarily used with very severe conditions that are not effectively treated through oral medications. Infusion therapy is also prescribed when a digestive disorder does not allow the body to absorb nutrients normally. This includes different types of cancers, gastrointestinal tract infections, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
The FDA-approved SmartPill is not a medicated pill but rather a tool that gathers data, such as acid level, pressure level and temperature of your GI tract, as it moves through the entire GI system to determine your GI mobility. This painless tool doesn’t use radiation and helps to pinpoint the cause of the problem as well as rule out other GI issues so that you may receive the best treatment.
It is similar to the pill cam, but instead of taking photos inside of your body, the SmartPill measures the motility or movement speed of your GI system. It wirelessly transmits data about your GI tract, so no X-rays or wires are needed for this procedure. You simply carry around a recorder on a belt clip or lanyard around your neck as you continue daily activities. The recorder captures the data that is downloaded into a computer. The SmartPill typically works its way through your system in three to five days then analyzed.
The SmartPill is able to measure the transit times in the stomach, small intestine and colon, making it the only test available today that measures all three with one test.