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Digestive Health and Wellness

Surgery-Free Solutions for People with Digestive Pain

Patients experiencing pain in their digestive tract despite taking medication may think their only option is surgery. But in between pharmaceutical and surgical approaches are minimally invasive procedures treating digestive diseases.

Using an endoscope to treat the patient’s digestive tract isn’t new, but gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopists are innovating ways to tackle problems.

The effects of problems

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects one in four people in the U.S. Patients who didn’t respond to medication or lifestyle changes underwent a surgical anti-reflux procedure to wrap the stomach’s top around the esophagus, preventing acid from refluxing upwards. Now, this is achieved through an endoscope reaching the stomach—a procedure known as Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF). TIF is minimally invasive, doesn’t require skin incisions and is effective. 

Prashant Kedia, M.D., said, “I saw a young patient with constant symptoms of heartburn, despite taking antacid pills. The burning in her throat was unbearable, so we performed a TIF procedure. Two months later, she was off antacid medications. She feels that TIF procedure changed her life.”

Sameer Islam, M.D., treated a farmer whose hemorrhoids prevented him from working. For internal hemorrhoids, medication may not provide relief. “My patient heard stories about surgical treatment and [didn’t] want to do that,” said Dr. Islam. “We did three banding sessions and soon he was symptom free.”

Hemorrhoid banding is a painless approach using an endoscope to reach hemorrhoids and cut off their blood supply.

Rapid solutions

The rapid pace of research in the GI endoscopy field offers options for patients. “Professional groups, including the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), offer guidelines and courses to help practitioners master emerging technologies,” said Karen L. Woods, M.D., FASGE, president of ASGE.

Source: The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, [email protected]

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