Ask the Expert: Diagnosing Digestive Disorders

 New Technologies Deliver Results  

by  Roger Charles, MD  – Chairman of the Department of Gastroenterology

 For the millions of Americans who suffer from digestive diseases, new technologies are improving our ability to see the smallest details of the digestive tract. According to Roger Charles, MD, Chairman of the Department of Gastroenterology at Cleveland Clinic Florida, this offers the promise of a faster and more accurate diagnosis, which can in turn lead to treatment options that are both less invasive and more targeted. Common diseases that affect gastrointestinal health include gallbladder disease, diverticulitis, esophageal reflux disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis and cancers of the stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum. Because symptoms are often similar across many conditions, getting an accurate diagnosis is essential. Dr. Charles explains how technology is helping us get it right.

Q: What are some of the latest techniques for viewing the digestive tract?  A: Cleveland Clinic is the first and only medical center in Broward and Palm Beach counties to utilize a procedure called double balloon enteroscopy, allowing the entire digestive tract to be visualized in real time, with the option to treat or biopsy any abnormalities right on the spot. Capsule endoscopy, which has the patient swallowing a pill-sized camera, also allows the GI specialist to view the entire small bowel. Endoscopic ultrasound is now used to examine the lining and walls of the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract and nearby organs such as the pancreas, liver and gallbladder.

Q: Are there new technologies aiding the diagnosis of digestive diseases?   A: There are several advanced technologies that are innovating GI diagnosis, though they are not yet widely available. One technology, called the Spyglass™ Direct Visualization System, allows the physician to view all quadrants of a patient’s bile duct, improving gallbladder disease diagnosis. Meanwhile, the Bravo pH Receiver is a new minimally invasive tool for diagnosing gastroesophageal reflux by monitoring the patient’s pH level in the esophagus.

Q: How is the right diagnostic technique selected?    A: Consultation with a physician who is a specialist in gastrointestinal diseases is the best way for a patient to obtain the right diagnosis and the best treatment.

To make an appointment with Dr. Charles and the Department of Gastroenterology at Cleveland Clinic Florida, please call 1.800.639.DOCTOR, or visit www.clevelandclinicflorida.org   for more information.

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