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Posts for: February, 2019

By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease
February 14, 2019
Category: Gastroenterology

What is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a critical diagnostic tool to evaluate the health of your large intestine, or colon. An ultra-thin, flexible tube called a sigmoidoscope is inserted in the rectum and guided up through the intestine.

The tube contains a tiny camera at the end which provides the doctor with a view of your sigmoid colon, which is the last two feet of the large intestine. The sigmoidoscope also allows the doctor to take samples of tissue for later biopsy. Tissue biopsy is the definitive way to determine whether there are precancerous or cancerous changes in your tissue cells.

The sigmoidoscopy procedure is often combined with a colonoscopy because the sigmoidoscope doesn’t show the entire colon, only the lower portion. Sigmoidoscopy may be recommended over colonoscopy because it often doesn’t require anesthesia and is a faster procedure than colonoscopy.

A flexible sigmoidoscopy can be used to determine the cause of intestinal problems like abdominal pain and bowel issues like diarrhea and constipation. It is also used to look for abnormal growths or polyps. It is also a vital tool to screen for colon and rectal cancer.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy may be recommended if you are over 50 years old to help detect colon and rectal cancer in the early stages, when it is the most treatable. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Each year, about 150,000 new cases are diagnosed in this country, and 50,000 people will die of the disease.

The flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure is a safe, effective way to determine the health of your sigmoid colon. It is a vital tool in maintaining your good health. If you are having abdominal issues, or you are at least 50 years old, a flexible sigmoidoscopy can help you. Your doctor can tell you more about flexible sigmoidoscopy and other procedures to help you feel better.


By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease
February 08, 2019
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: Colonoscopy  

How your gastroenterologists in Anchorage, Alaska can help you

You probably haven’t thought much about a colonoscopy, but if you are age 50 or older, a colonoscopy is important. That’s because the procedure can detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable. Colorectal cancer ranks third in cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 49,000 people will die of the disease this year.

Colonoscopy AppointmentThe gastroenterologists at Alaska Digestive & Liver Disease in Anchorage, Alaska Dr. Ronald Boisen, Dr. Daryl McClendon, and Dr. Jeffrey Molloy provide a full range of services including colonoscopies, to protect the health of your digestive system.

These are just a few of the most common questions and answers about colonoscopies:

 

When should I begin having colonoscopies?

When you are at least 50 years old or have a family history of colon cancer. You may also need a colonoscopy if you experience:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Recurrent diarrhea
  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic abdominal pain

How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?

You will need to have only clear liquids the day before your colonoscopy. You will also need to take laxatives prescribed by your doctor to clean out your colon.

Will I be awake during the colonoscopy?

You will probably be sedated for the procedure, so you won’t remember much of the appointment or the procedure. It’s important to bring a driver with you to take you home.

How is a colonoscopy performed?

A small, ultra-thin, flexible tube is inserted into your rectum and threaded through your colon. The tube contains a small camera at the tip, which allows your gastroenterologist to see the inside of your colon.

How long does the procedure take?

The procedure takes about 45 minutes, but the entire appointment will require 2 to 3 hours because of sedation.

A colonoscopy is a vital tool in the fight against colon cancer. To find out more about colonoscopies and other gastrointestinal services to help you stay healthy, call the gastroenterologists at Alaska Digestive & Liver Disease in Anchorage, Alaska today!


By Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease
February 01, 2019
Category: Gastroenterology

If you’ve been dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and you have either been ignoring your symptoms or haven’t been able to get them under control then you could end up dealing with Barrett’s esophagus, a serious complication of GERD that causes the lining of the esophagus to mimic the lining of the intestines.

There are no unique symptoms associated with Barrett’s esophagus, as many of the symptoms are the same as they are for GERD; however, a reason that patients shouldn’t ignore symptoms of GERD is that Barrett’s esophagus can increase the likelihood of developing an extremely serious and life-threatening cancer of the esophagus.

Symptoms to be on the look out for include:

  • Heartburn
  • A burning sensation in the back of the throat
  • Persistent cough
  • Laryngitis
  • Nausea

Even though Barrett’s esophagus is not a common complication of acid reflux, if someone experiences persistent acid reflux this can alter the cells within the esophagus over time to resemble the cells found in the lining of the intestines.

You may be screened with Barrett’s esophagus if you have some of these risk factors:

  • Male
  • Over 50 years old
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Chronic GERD
  • Obesity or being overweight

A gastroenterologist will guide a small flexible tube, known as an endoscope, into the throat and down into the esophagus. This is performed under light sedation. At the end of the endoscope is a camera that allows a gastroenterology doctor to take a biopsy of the lining of the esophagus.

The biopsy sample will be tested for cancer or any precancerous cells. If Barrett’s esophagus is detected in the sample, further endoscopies may be required in the future to detect early warning signs of cancer.

Treating Barrett’s Esophagus

While this condition cannot be reversed there are ways to at least slow down or even prevent the condition from getting worse by getting your acid reflux under control. This can be done through a variety of lifestyle changes (e.g. quitting smoking; changing diet; losing weight) and either over-the-counter or prescription medications (e.g. H2 blockers; proton pump inhibitors).

If you are dealing with acid reflux a few times a week then it’s time to turn to a gastroenterologist for more information. By getting your GERD under control as soon as possible you could prevent complications such as Barrett’s esophagus. Call your gastroenterologist today.