Treatment & Procedures
The Digestive Health Center at UnityPoint Health - Meriter provides a wide variety of services to patients requiring diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders. Most of the procedures below are performed using an endoscope which is a small, flexible, fiber-optic instrument that has a light and a camera on the tip. This enables the physician to view the GI tract and diagnose and treat conditions that are often found within the organs of the digestive system.
Anorectal manometry is a test used to measure the pressures of the anal sphincter muscles, the sensation in the rectum and the neural reflexes that are needed for normal bowel movements. Anorectal manometry is used to diagnose:
- Cause of chronic constipation or fecal incontinence (inability to control evacuation of the bowel).
- Cause of fecal incontinence when it is suspected that surgery or disease has injured the nerves or muscles in the anus, or when diabetes may have resulted in impaired sensation in the rectum.
- Hirschsprung's disease in children (an absence of nerves in the wall of the colon).
Cologuard Stool DNA Screening Test
Cologuard is a prescription-based, home test that uses DNA technology to detect cancer and pre-cancerous cells. Cologuard can be prescribed to individuals age 50-85 who have been identified as being at average risk for developing colon cancer.
The earlier we are able to detect and treat colon cancer, the greater the chance of a favorable outcome. While UnityPoint Health - Meriter recognizes traditional colonoscopy as the most effective way to detect colon cancer, Cologuard is an alternative option for some patients.
A colonoscopy is a direct visualization of the lower GI tract through a colonoscope. Through this scope, the physician is able to diagnose and treat conditions within the colon. A colonoscopy is used to detect conditions such as Crohn's disease (inflammatory bowel disease) and ulcerative colitis, diverticular disease, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a bleeding source, etc.
The procedure is also performed to detect colorectal cancer at its earliest stage, which is called a polyp. A polyp is a pre-cancerous growth on the wall of the colon. By removing the polyp, colon cancer can be prevented. A colonoscopy is a relatively short procedure, lasting approximately 30 minutes.
Watch and learn more about what to expect when having a colonoscopy.
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that combines the use of endoscopy and fluoroscopy to diagnose and treat conditions of the bile ducts, including gallstones, inflammatory strictures (scars), leaks (from trauma and surgery) and cancer.
Esophageal manometry provides diagnostic information about the motility of the esophagus and is useful in the evaluation of swallowing disorders, GERD and non-cardiac chest pain. The procedure typically takes 1-2 hours.
24-Hour Esophageal pH Monitoring
24-hour esophageal pH monitoring is used to diagnose problems associated with the esophagus, including heartburn/GERD and non-cardiac chest pain.
Fecal Bacteriotherapy (Fecal Transplant)
Fecal bacteriotherapy offers advanced treatment for those with chronic, recurrent Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff) infection and who have failed multiple attempts at conventional antibiotic treatment. The therapy involves placing fecal matter from a donor, living outside of the patient's home, inside the intestine of the patient via enema. The transplant offers a means to restore the normal microbiota in the intestines providing a cure to C. Diff within hours or a few days.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an exam used to evaluate the inside of the rectum and lower part of the colon, called the sigmoid colon. During a sigmoidoscopy, only the last one to two feet of the five to six-foot-long colon (large intestine) is examined. Flexible sigmoidoscopies are commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or changes in bowel habits. They are also performed to screen people over age 50 for colorectal cancer.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Program
The IBS Program at Meriter offers a patient-centered, team-based, holistic approach to treatment. We believe that it is possible to live well even if you have a chronic condition such as IBS. Our interdisciplinary team of specialists includes gastroenterology, medical nutrition, medical psychology and integrative medicine. We provide a treatment plan that focuses on self-management strategies that will benefit your physical health, emotional well-being and quality of life.
Medical Nutrition Therapy
Medical nutrition therapy focuses on diet and lifestyle changes that can prevent or reduce your health risks. Working together as a team, you and your dietitian will develop a plan tailored to your nutritional and medical needs. Your dietitian will act as your guide down the path to nutritional wellness and improved health and quality of life.
Probiotics for the Treatment of Adult Gastrointestinal Disorders
There are trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive tracts. Most of these are healthy bacteria, but others have the potential to cause damage to our intestinal systems. The good bacteria keep the bad bacteria "in-check" by limiting the unhealthy bacteria's ability to increase in numbers. At times, an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria can lead to uncomfortable symptoms or illnesses. Our expert digestive health team can recommend and prescribe the appropriate probiotics (bacteria or yeast) that may alleviate common medical symptoms and illnesses, such an abdominal discomfort, gas, irregularity, constipation and diarrhea.
Small Bowel Capsule Endoscopy
A capsule endoscopy is a procedure that involves swallowing a video capsule, the size of a large vitamin, containing a miniature camera, light source and battery. The capsule will pass naturally through your digestive system while taking 75,000 to 80,000 pictures of your small intestine. The capsule transmits the pictures to a small recording device worn around your waist. From this data, a video is created that your doctor will review. This procedure is used to find bleeding in portions of the small intestine that are hard to reach with a conventional endoscope. It can also be used to help identify suspected Crohn's disease or other small bowel abnormalities.
Small Bowel Enteroscopy
Small bowel enteroscopy is a test using an enteroscope to evaluate gastrointestinal bleeding, small bowel tumors, polyps, or other small bowel diseases. The procedure may also be used to treat various conditions of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as abnormal growths or bleeding.
An upper endoscopy, also called a gastroscopy, is a procedure that provides direct visualization of the upper GI tract through a gastroscope. This scope allows the physician to visualize the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (upper portion of the small bowel). This procedure is performed to detect conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)/heartburn, Barrett's esophagus, hiatal hernia, peptic ulcers, gastritis/duodenitis, celiac disease, etc. The entire procedure typically takes less than 10 minutes.