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Digestive Health

Digestive Health

Digestive health disorders affecting your gastrointestinal (GI) tract can cause problems ranging from mild to serious. That’s why you want to understand your symptoms and start early to get an accurate diagnosis for issues related to digestion.

Digestive Health Services Close to Home

If you or a loved one live with a digestive disorder, take advantage of the team-based approach to care from OU Health’s digestive disease specialists in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. You benefit from a full range of diagnostic procedures including colonoscopy, upper GI endoscopy, endoscopic ultrasound, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), liver and small-bowel biopsy and tests related to the esophagus, stomach and bowels.

When you choose OU Health, you’ll find holistic, patient-centered care and comprehensive treatment involving a variety of options, ranging from lifestyle changes and health maintenance programs to medications and surgical procedures using the latest techniques and advanced technology to address your specific situation.

Digestive Health Conditions We Treat

Work with the digestive health experts at OU Health for a precise diagnosis and personalized treatment plan to address digestive conditions such as:

Expert Treatments & Services for Digestive Health

In addition to comprehensive diagnostic testing and therapies for digestive diseases, you benefit from OU Health’s experts with extensive specialty training in gastrointestinal cancers, diseases of the bile ducts and pancreas, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastroesophageal reflux disease and gastrointestinal (GI) motility disorders.

At OU Health, you and your care team gain access to gastrointestinal treatments and services available nowhere else in the region, including advanced interventional endoscopy for innovative diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to treat early-stage digestive cancers without the need for surgery, as well as the advanced GI motility diagnostic center that offers methods to control symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Colon Cancer Screening

Take advantage of OU Health’s expert gastroenterology team, Oklahoma’s leading provider for colonoscopy, the most common colorectal cancer screening test in the United States based on the ability to prevent cancer before it occurs.

For the greatest cancer prevention impact, you want to work with the extensively trained gastroenterologists at OU Health in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. These experts perform your colonoscopy and they also closely monitor the widely published quality-related measurements for physician effectiveness in detecting precancerous polyps to ensure you receive the highest quality of care in the region.

Acid Reflux

Stomach acid that occasionally backs up into your esophagus, known as acid reflux or heartburn, may just feel uncomfortable. But if you experience this event regularly, the resulting damage to tissues in your esophagus may lead to difficulty swallowing or a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Over the long term, the situation may even result in esophageal cancer.

Visit with an OU Health digestive health specialist to discuss ongoing symptoms such as:

  • Acid/bitter taste in the throat or mouth
  • Burning sensation in chest or throat
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Stomach or chest pain
  • Unexplained sore throat

Acid Reflux Treatments

Treatment for acid reflux may begin with recommendations for dietary changes or daily medication. You and your OU Health gastroenterologist also may determine if you’re a candidate for a minimally invasive or open surgical procedure to strengthen the valve between the esophagus and stomach to prevent acid back-up. Surgical options include:

  • Fundoplication – Minimally invasive laparoscopic or open procedure to restructure the valve at the top of the stomach
  • LINX implant – Minimally invasive procedure, known as magnetic sphincter augmentation (MSA), to insert a device that helps reduce dependence on daily medication to control reflux; does not surgically alter the stomach or esophagus; device lasts for your lifetime but may be easily removed, if necessary

Typical results for acid reflux treatments include reduced heartburn or the need for daily medication, reduced regurgitation and improvement in your quality of life.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) affect the digestive tract (stomach, small and large bowel). With their long-term (chronic) inflammation comes the potential for scarring and bowel damage that may require surgery if not properly treated. In IBD, often considered an autoimmune disease, the body’s own immune cells attack healthy cells by mistake. IBD differs from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which may show similar symptoms but does not cause bowel damage. IBD typically produces debilitating symptoms that can negatively impact your quality of life.

IBD consists of two diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both treatable conditions. You and your primary care doctor can consider a referral to OU Health’s IBD team if you experience common symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal cramping and pain
  • Chronic diarrhea that may contain blood
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Malnutrition
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Weight loss

Accurate Diagnosis for IBD

For early diagnosis and appropriate treatment to avoid long-term complications, your doctor may refer you to OU Health’s gastroenterology specialists who use a combination of blood work, endoscopy (including colonoscopy or camera scope tests) and X-ray tests, CT scans or MRI scans to develop an accurate diagnosis.

Comprehensive IBD Treatment

As part of your OU Health experience, you and your gastrointestinal care team develop an individualized treatment plan that typically begins with medication, including:

  • Antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and metronidazole for short-term infections that may complicate IBD
  • Aminosalicylates such as sulfasalazine and mesalamine for anti-inflammatory treatment
  • Biologics for moderate or severe IBD to help block key inflammation steps within the condition
  • Corticosteroids such as prednisone for short-term (2-3 months) treatment of bowel inflammation
  • Immunomodulator drugs such as 6-mercaptopurine
  • Jak inhibitors such as tofacitinib

If your condition would benefit from surgery, your OU Health team includes highly skilled colorectal surgeons with extensive experience in performing minimally invasive procedures to remove the affected section of bowel.

GI Motility Testing

If you experience difficulty swallowing or heartburn symptoms that don’t respond to medication, ask your doctor for a referral to gastrointestinal (GI) motility experts at OU Health. You’ll find high resolution motility tests capable of identifying abnormal contractions of the esophagus that help your GI care team identify the optimal treatment for you.

When you work with OU Health’s highly trained GI motility scientists and physicians, you gain access to specialized assessments for weakened anal sphincter muscles or poor coordination of anal muscles that lead to accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of rectal incontinence or chronic constipation. Following the tests, you may take part in biofeedback therapy, a behavioral treatment designed to improve your symptoms without the need for surgery.

Your Expert Care Team for Digestive Health

You and your primary care doctor work with OU Health’s board-certified, nationally distinguished gastroenterologists and a wide range of specialists from multiple healthcare disciplines. Everyone comes together as a team to focus on developing an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan that meets your particular needs and fits your specific condition.

In addition to you and your gastroenterologist, your multidisciplinary team may include radiologists and other specialists from OU Health’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) program who collaborate to deliver the latest approved therapies.

Your IBD support care at OU Health extends beyond face-to-face visits with your physicians. You can also communicate directly with your gastroenterologist through our online patient portal or physician telehealth visits or you can get your questions answered by qualified nurses over the phone.

You receive all your care and treatment within the OU Health system and benefit from the knowledge of experienced healthcare professionals who also teach the next generation of providers.

You can take advantage of evidence-based treatments resulting from scientific research conducted through our academic health center. And, depending on your situation, you also may qualify to participate in clinical trials taking place in Oklahoma City.

IBD Support Group: Join OU Health’s IBD support group to learn from others who live with the condition, share your experience and hear from expert gastroenterologists on topics related to inflammatory bowel disease. For information or to register, call 405-271-4024.

Call to Schedule an Appointment

Get a screening colonoscopy at OU Health on your calendar today.

Call to schedule your appointment at (405) 271-8478.
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