Some abdominal pain has non-life-threatening causes, but some pain in your abdomen, especially when associated with fever, diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool, nausea or vomiting, blood in the vomit, severe tenderness in the belly, jaundice or swelling in the abdomen, should be examined by a specialist. Your primary care doctor may refer you to our Gastroenterology team for abdominal pain in these cases.
Our Gastroenterology team can help diagnose cancers of the stomach, pancreas, liver, colon, intestines, esophagus and gallbladder.
Colorectal cancer affects the large intestine (colon) or the rectum. Because colon cancers and rectal cancers have many features in common, you can refer to them together as “colorectal cancer.” Cancerous tumors that begin in the colon or rectum may also spread to other parts of the body.
Our doctors recommend getting screened regularly after turning 45. Screen tests, the most common of which is a colonoscopy (see below), help find abnormal growths before they turn into cancerous tumors, so they can be removed.
If your gallbladder doesn’t empty the way it should, bile can form gallstones that can cause sudden, severe pain in your upper back, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills or yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice). Our gastroenterologists perform several different kinds of tests, including ultrasounds, HIDA scans (cholescintigraphies), blood tests or ERCPs (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographies), to diagnose gallstones. Your doctor will put together a care plan for you that will include dissolving or taking out the gallstones.
Heartburn/Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Heartburn is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a disorder caused by acid in your stomach flowing back up your food pipe or esophagus. Other symptoms can include regurgitation or trouble swallowing. Once GERD is diagnosed, whether through a physical exam or further testing, your doctor will develop a personalized care plan that may include both medication and lifestyle changes to help treat your symptoms.
Hepatitis comes in five different viral strands (A, B, C, D, E), but all cause inflammation in the liver that results in liver cell damage. Once diagnosed, and depending on the specific type, your doctor will work on a plan to treat your disease and stop damage to the liver and put precautions in place to prevent the spread of the disease if necessary.
Vaccines exist for Hepatitis A and B, and are highly recommend for all children and adults in the U.S.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
Crohn’s disease is caused by inflammation and sores along your digestive tract. Usually it affects your small intestine, but in some cases it can affect your whole digestive tract. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but your doctor will develop a personalized care plan for you based on your particular symptoms and needs that will ease your symptoms, control inflammation and help you get the right nutrition.
In most cases of ulcerative colitis, the inflammation begins in the rectum and lower intestine and can move to your whole colon. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, long-term disease, which means your symptoms may go away for periods of time (remission) but they will come back. Your gastroenterologist will recommend a care plan that may involve medication or surgery based on your needs.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unknown, but it will not cause lasting harm to the intestines or lead to a more serious disease, such as cancer, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. However, people with inflammatory bowel disease can also have IBS.
IBS causes cramps in your belly, gas, swelling or bloating, diarrhea or constipation, and it can be worsened by parts of your diet or stress. As such, your doctor’s treatment plan for you may include changes in your diet and managing stress as well as medications.
Liver disease occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue (cirrhosis) and the liver stops functioning normally. Liver failure can occur if the liver gets so badly damaged that it stops working altogether, however the damage to your liver can sometimes improve if what is causing the damage stops. Your gastroenterologist will treat your disease and help you prevent or manage other health problems that come along with it. Treatment may include eating a healthy diet and not drinking alcohol as well as medication.
Pancreatic disease or pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas is inflamed. If treated properly, acute pancreatitis can go away after a few days. Chronic pancreatic disease can come and go over time and may cause permanent damage to and scarring of the pancreatic tissue. Our Gastroenterology team can perform several different types of tests to diagnose pancreatitis, including EUS (endoscopic ultrasound) and ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography).
A treatment plan set out for you by your doctor may include changes in your diet, surgery, medication and, in some cases, hospitalization in order to let the pancreas rest.
Swallowing Disorders (Esophageal Disorders)
Esophageal disorders (swallowing disorders) include many different types of health issues, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Symptoms of a swallowing disorder can include difficulty in swallowing, regurgitation of food or acid and heartburn. Our Gastroenterology team can diagnose and treat all types of swallowing disorders and will develop treatment plans that are based around your symptoms and needs.
Ulcers can occur in the small intestine and the stomach. While ulcers do not often cause symptoms, some that can occur are pain in the belly, nausea, vomiting or feeling bloated or full. Ulcers can also bleed, which cause other complications such as anemia or blood in the stool or vomit. After diagnosis, typically with an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), your doctor will prescribe any necessary medication to help remove the ulcer. A gastroenterologist can also perform some treatment, especially if the ulcer is bleeding, during your EGD.
We offer some of the most common procedures for diagnosing common digestive disorders. Many of these procedures can be performed at Springfield Clinic’s outpatient surgery center, the Ambulatory Surgery & Endoscopy Center.
- Colon screening for polyps
- Dilation and evaluation procedures for patients with swallowing disorders
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Upper GI endoscopy (EGD)
The gastroenterologists with Springfield Clinic’s Center for Advanced Endoscopy perform several advanced therapeutic endoscopy services.