Millions of Americans experience digestive disorders every year. While severe or frequent heartburn, trouble swallowing, problems with digestion or passing digested waste can feel like minor irritants, these issues can also be an indication of a more severe problem. Taking care of your digestive system is essential, as it breaks down foods into the nutrients your body needs. Drinking water, exercising and a fiber-rich diet can also improve your digestive health.
Gastroenterology is the study, diagnosis and treatment of digestive system disorders affecting the esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum, liver, gallbladder or pancreas. Cullman Regional Endoscopy Services provides the latest technologies for approximately 300 procedures each month, including:
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD or upper endoscopy)
- Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Bravo pH monitoring
Conditions We Treat
At Cullman Regional, evaluation and treatment options are available for both common and uncommon gastrointestinal (GI) disease, including these conditions:
- Abdominal pain
- Barrett’s Esophagus
- Celiac disease
- Colon cancer
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Chronic heartburn and acid reflux
- Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
- Esophageal diseases, including Esophagitis
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Diseases (GERD)
- Hepatitis C
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s Disease and Colitis)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Lactose intolerance
- Liver disease
- Motility disorders (esophageal or intestinal spasms/paralysis)
- Pancreatic disease and disorders
- Rectal bleeding and black stools
- Swallowing disorders
Your physician will perform one or more of the procedures listed below to assess and/or treat your GI health issues:
Bravo® pH Monitoring
A catheter-free test that measures pH levels in your esophagus, for those with chronic heartburn. These measurements, collected over multiple days, allow your physician to evaluate your heartburn and acid reflux symptoms and develop the best treatment plan for you. A capsule, about the size of a gel cap, is temporarily attached to the wall of your esophagus and transmits pH readings using an external telemetry unit that can be attached to your belt.
A procedure that examines your airway through a thin viewing instrument called a bronchoscope. During a bronchoscopy, your physician will examine your throat, larynx, trachea and lower airways.
Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy™
A minimally invasive procedure that uses CT-guided needle biopsy. This procedure allows physicians to navigate and access difficult-to-reach areas of the lung. Using CT scan images, this system creates a roadmap of the thousands of tiny pathways inside the lungs. The LungGPS technology then allows physicians to guide tiny tools through the lung pathways, take tissue samples of lung lesions, and place markers for future treatment.
A test that allows your physician to examine the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon) using a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope. A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors and areas of inflammation or bleeding. Often, polyps can be removed at the same time and studied for any sign of cancer or concern.
Helps to identify and “localize” small colorectal lesions, especially in laparoscopic surgery.
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography (ERCP)
A specialized technique that combines the use of a flexible, lighted scope (endoscope) with x-ray images to study the bile or biliary ducts (liver), pancreatic duct and gallbladder.
A procedure that allows your doctor to dilate, or stretch, a narrowed area of your esophagus (swallowing tube). The most common cause of stricture or narrowing of the esophagus is scarring from stomach acid reflux that occurs in patients with heartburn. Patients with a narrowed esophagus often have trouble swallowing. Food may feel like it is “stuck” in the chest region, causing discomfort or pain.
A tiny flexible mesh tube that is placed through a constricted area of your esophagus, allowing food and liquids to pass from your mouth to your stomach for digestion and absorption of nutrients. The stent is placed at the point of narrowing or blockage to open up the esophagus and help you swallow or drink more easily. Stents may be used to treat patients suffering from a persistent benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) disease.
An examination of the lining of your esophagus, stomach and upper duodenum (the upper part of your small intestine) with a small camera on a tube (flexible endoscope) that is inserted down your throat.
A procedure that allows your physician to examine the inner lining of your lower (sigmoid) colon or large intestine. Flexible sigmoidoscopies are commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or changes in bowel habits.
PEG (Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy) Tube
Also called a feeding tube. One end of this flexible silicone tube sits inside the stomach and is held in place with a balloon-like tip; the other end is taped to your skin. The PEG tube allows nutrition, fluids and/or medications to be directed into the stomach, bypassing the mouth and esophagus. It may be a temporary measure and is not always the sole source of nutrition.
Variceal Banding or Injection
A procedure to treat varices – abnormal, enlarged veins in the esophagus – through a flexible endoscope used to visualize the vessels. This procedure is done to prevent esophageal varices from bleeding, a condition that can be life threatening and requires immediate treatment.
- Variceal banding uses elastic bands to tie off bleeding veins. Your doctor uses an endoscope to wrap the varices with an elastic band, which essentially “strangles” the veins so they can’t bleed.
- Endoscopy injection therapy uses a solution injected into bleeding veins to shrink them.