Southwest Digestive Specialists limits their practice to Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy. Gastroenterology is the study of the esophagus, stomach, pancreatic and intestinal diseases as well as preventive healthcare including colonoscopy screening for colon polyps and cancer. Hepatology is the study of liver diseases such as hepatitis or fatty liver.

Digestive Disorders

Due to the nature of the digestive tract, those suffering from chronic digestive ailments often experience a decline in their quality of life. Committing to a disease management program for the following disorders can result in a marked improvement or elimination in symptoms.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) includes two autoimmune and immune-related diseases: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Primary symptoms of intestinal inflammation include abdominal pain, change in bowel habits and rectal bleeding. Early evaluation and treatment is required to prevent serious complications.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition that mainly affects quality of life due to chronic abdominal pain, bloating, gas and irregular bowel movements. A variety of new treatments are now available depending on its severity.
  • Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis are spastic and infectious pockets in the colon and intestine that are very common in countries with low fiber diets. In addition to increasing daily fiber intake, treatment includes medications or surgery for complications. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions, and involves the regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus. The most common symptom is heartburn. Treatments may include lifestyle changes, antacid medication, or surgery depending on its severity.
  • Hemorrhoids are swollen or inflamed veins in the rectum and anal canal. They are associated with irregular bowel movements and straining. Treatment includes high fiber diet and supplement, sitz bath and steroid cream or suppository. In some cases, hemorrhoid banding or surgery is required.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the second most common, yet most preventable, cancer in the United States. It affects the sexes equally, most commonly between the ages of 50-65. Early detection through colonoscopy is the key to prevention. For average risk individuals with no family history or warning signs, it is recommended that colonoscopy screening start at age 50. These potentially life-saving tests should begin sooner for high-risk individuals, those with bowel problems or a family history of colon cancer or polyps. By the time a change in bowels habits, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or weight loss develops, colon cancer may already be present. This disease frequently occurs without a family history.

Liver Disease

The role of the liver is to maintain normal metabolism and eliminate toxins from the blood stream, while retaining and storing nutrients and vitamins. Liver disease and hepatitis can cause progressive damage or cirrhosis. Southwest Digestive Specialists have a successful history of treating liver diseases such as:
  • Hepatitis B and C — Hepatitis C is a virus that slowly and silently damages the liver. It is a common cause of cirrhosis and a need for liver transplant. Prevention includes avoiding exposure to bodily fluids, primarily blood, and in the case of B, vaccination. Safe and effective treatment for hepatitis B and C are available. Cure is now possible for hepatitis C.
  • Fatty Liver Disease is the accumulation of excessive amounts of fat in the liver. There are many causes, including alcohol, drugs, diabetes, obesity and other metabolic or nutritional issues. Treatments are as varied as the causes. Behavioral modification with diet, exercise and weight loss is most effective.
  • Cirrhosis is the end result of prolonged damage from various causes of hepatitis, whether alcohol or non-alcohol such as fatty liver, hepatitis B and C, autoimmune or genetic disease. Complications include liver failure or death, liver cancer, or a liver transplant required for survival. Diagnosis used to require a liver biopsy but non-invasive testing is now available. Treatment depends on the disease severity and underlying cause.