Gastrointestinal (GI) doctors in Savannah, Georgia
The gastrointestinal center at Memorial Health offers a wide range of treatment options for patients experiencing GI conditions. Our compassionate team of digestive health specialists walks you through every step of your treatment and is always available to answer questions.
The staff at our gastrointestinal center is led by experienced physicians who set high standards, perform the latest procedures and follow up with your progress to ensure long-term success.
To learn more about gastrointestinal treatments we offer or schedule an appointment, please call (912) 350-6113.
GI disorders we treat
Gastrointestinal health is vital for carrying out the basic processes we need to survive, such as digesting food and getting rid of waste. The digestive system is extensive with many moving parts. When one of the parts has a problem, a gastroenterologist may be needed to treat your symptoms.
The gastroenterology team at our hospital provides care for many types of GI conditions, including:
- Barret's esophagus—This condition occurs when cells that line the esophagus turn into abnormal cells.
- Colorectal cancer—This form of cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow and multiply within the colon or rectum.
- Diverticulitis—This is an infection or inflammation that occurs within pouches (called diverticula) in the intestines.
- Eosinophilic esophagitis—This results from a chronic allergy or condition of the immune system within the esophagus. It occurs when a buildup of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) accumulates in the esophagus.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—This condition occurs when a patient is experiencing a chronic case of acid reflux, identified by heartburn symptoms that occur two times or more a week.
- Hemorrhoids—These are swollen veins within the rectum that can cause pain and bleeding.
Diagnosing and treating GI disease
Our on-site gastrointestinal diagnostic unit (GIDU) is where pre-surgical testing and preparation are performed. This is where patients receive care before and after a GI procedure. The GIDU is staffed by highly-trained healthcare professionals, including specially trained nurses, endoscopy technicians and anesthesiologists
We provide both inpatient and outpatient services in the GIDU. Patients are referred to the GIDU for a wide range of diagnostic procedures and treatments, including:
- Bronchoscopy—This procedure uses a thin tube, called a bronchoscope. During the procedure, the bronchoscope is inserted down the throat and into the lungs to examine the lungs and air passages.
- Colonoscopy—This procedure allows your doctor to see directly inside your colon using a flexible surgical tube. It is an important diagnostic tool in identifying bleeding and/or early signs of colorectal cancer.
- Dilation of the colon—This procedure widens a narrowing that has occurred in the small intestine or colon.
- Endoscopic radiofrequency ablation—This procedure is used to treat Barrett's esophagus. It involves dilating or stretching a narrowed portion of the esophagus.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)—This procedure is used to diagnose and treat problems occurring in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas and pancreatic duct.
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)—This imaging procedure allows your doctor to examine the linings of the esophagus and stomach. It is also used to look at the walls of your upper and lower GI tract.
- Esophageal manometry—This test measures the function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and esophageal muscles. It determines whether your esophagus is correctly moving food into the stomach.
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)—This procedure examines the esophagus, stomach and upper part of the small intestine. It is used to diagnose conditions such as acid reflux and ulcers.
- Liver biopsy—This procedure removes a sample of tissue from the liver for testing.
- Pain management procedures—These procedures may vary but are performed in order to reduce pain levels associated with gastrointestinal disorders.
- Paracentesis—This procedure allows doctors to acquire a sample of fluids from the abdominal cavity.
- Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG)—This procedure places a feeding tube into a patient's stomach through the skin of the stomach.
- pH studies—These tests measure acidity levels in the stomach and esophagus. It can confirm if a medication is effective or not. They may be used to identify if a patient has chronic heartburn or GERD.
- Sigmoidoscopy—This procedure examines the lower portion of the colon using a thin tube. It is used to diagnose intestinal problems that cause symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain. It may also be used to detect abnormal growths.
- Transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF)—This is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat patients with GERD.
Memorial Health University Medical Center is recognized by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy for our commitment to quality care and safety in performing gastrointestinal procedures.
Colorectal cancer care
Colon cancer is diagnosed when a growth of abnormal cells is identified in the large intestine, also called the colon. The colon is responsible for absorbing water and nutrients from the foods we eat. After passing through the colon, solid waste is passed into the rectum for storage prior to being expelled from the body. Colorectal cancer may be found in both the colon and rectum.
Our specialists use different types of diagnostic tests to identify if colorectal cancer is present, which include:
- Colonoscopy (test that examines the entire colon)
- Computed tomography (CT) colonography (specialized imaging exam to view the interior of the colon)
- Sigmoidoscopy (test that looks at the rectum and lower part of the large intestine)
- Stool testing to identify if hidden (occult) blood is present
If colorectal cancer is found during diagnostic testing, our full-service cancer center is available with treatment options, including:
- Radiation therapy
- Removal of all or part of the colon (colectomy)
- Removal of a polyp (polypectomy) and local excision
Minimally invasive GERD treatment
A GERD diagnosis is made when a patient experiences a chronic case of acid reflux, identified by recurring heartburn symptoms. GERD symptoms are caused by a backflow of stomach fluid into the lower esophagus. Some patients are able to manage their GERD symptoms through medications, such as antacids and lifestyle changes, while others may require surgery to correct the structural problem in the body.
Our hospital is the only one in Savannah offering the transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) procedure to treat GERD. TIF is considered a minimally invasive procedure that is performed without any surgical incisions. This means patients experience less pain and fewer complications with a faster recovery time, compared to traditional surgery.
To learn more about the TIF procedure, please call us at (912) 712-7650.
The TIF procedure is used to rebuild the body's esophageal valve to keep acid in the stomach and prevent reflux. It is performed by inserting an endoscope through the mouth and into the esophagus. The doctor will fold the top of the stomach and wrap a portion around the lower esophagus, creating a new valve.
A colonoscopy is a procedure used to identify signs of colorectal cancer or other abnormalities in the colon and rectum. Doctors use a specialized surgical scope that is inserted through the rectum and into the colon. The scope has a tiny camera that allows your doctor to view the colon.
Bowel preparation for colonoscopy
Before undergoing a colonoscopy procedure, you must go through a bowel preparation process to cleanse the colon. Your doctor will prescribe a medication that will cause diarrhea to empty all stool from the colon. This is important, because if any stool remains inside the colon, it may prevent your physician from clearly visualizing any abnormalities, such as colon polyps.
Your doctor will discuss bowel preparation with you prior to your procedure. In general, you can expect to follow this process:
- Stop taking any fiber supplements one week prior to your colonoscopy
- Stop taking any aspirin-containing or anti-inflammatory products one week prior to and one week after the procedure, unless otherwise directed by your physician.
- Begin bowel preparation 48 hours prior to your procedure as directed by your physician. You may be asked to take a laxative and/or drink a substance that will help empty your bowel. If you experience any problems as a result of the bowel cleansing agent, call your physician.
- Consume only a liquid diet on the day prior to your colonoscopy.
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night prior to the procedure, unless otherwise instructed by your physician.
Coming to the hospital for a GI procedure
When arriving at the hospital for your procedure, you can park for free in one of the on-site parking decks or designated patient spaces. You will be prepped for your procedure in our pre-surgical area. The actual procedure will take place in one of our GI procedure surgical suites. After, you will spend your initial rest and recovery in the post anesthesia care unit.