You can turn to Norwalk Hospital’s Digestive Disease Center for diagnosis and treatment of the full range of conditions that can affect your gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, biliary system and liver. The most common conditions we see are:
Acid Reflux: Also called GERD (for gastroesophageal reflux disease) or heartburn, this chronic and progressive condition is caused when stomach acids flow backward into the esophagus.
If you suspect you have GERD, it’s important to see a doctor. Left untreated, GERD—caused by a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle that acts like a valve between the esophagus and the stomach—can lead to more serious problems, including Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. GERD symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Chest pressure or pain
- Nighttime awakening
Diagnostic testing performed by a healthcare provider who specializes in esophageal diseases is the only reliable way to determine if you have GERD.
Evaluation may include:
- Endoscopy, an exam in which a lighted, flexible instrument called an endoscope is inserted through the mouth to look at the esophageal lining
- Measurement of pH levels (to determine acid exposure) in the esophagus with the BravoTM system, a miniature capsule that’s temporarily attached to the esophagus wall and transmits information wirelessly to a portable receiver you wear on your waistband
- Impedance testing, an outpatient test in which sensors placed in the esophagus measure the amount of acid or non-acid reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus
- Manometry, a test to measure the function of the LES
Treatment for GERD includes acid-suppressing medications, diet and lifestyle changes, and minimally invasive surgical procedures to control reflux—including the LINX® Reflux Management System, which improves the function of a weak LES, restoring the body's natural barrier to reflux.
Barrett’s esophagus: A potentially pre-cancerous condition in which the cells lining the esophagus are damaged as a result of chronic acid reflux
Celiac disease: An autoimmune disorder in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten (a substance in wheat products), leading to difficulty in digesting food and potential intestinal injury
Colon cancer: The second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. and the third most common cancer in both men and women. Most colon cancers begin as benign polyps, which can be identified and removed during colonoscopy exams.
- In a recently published study, screening colonoscopy with removal of precancerous colon polyps reduced colon cancer deaths by 53%
- Current guidelines recommend a first screening colonoscopy at age 50 (45 for African-Americans), with follow-ups every 5-10 years depending on the initial exam findings and family history of cancer or polyps
- While colonoscopy is the recognized gold standard for cancer prevention, CT scan colonography, sometimes called virtual colonoscopy, also provides accurate detection (but not removal) of polyps, and is also available at Norwalk Hospital’s Digestive Disease Center
Constipation: Difficulty emptying the bowels
Crohn’s disease: A chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, especially the colon and small intestine
Diverticulitis: When small pouches (diverticula) in the large intestine become inflamed or infected, causing abdominal pain and fever
Gallstones: Hard deposits that form in the gallbladder, causing upper abdominal pain and often requiring surgery
Hemorrhoids: Swollen, enlarged veins in the rectum and/or anus that may bleed or cause pain and irritation
Hepatitis B and C: Chronic viral infections of the liver that may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer if not effectively treated
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Chronic inflammatory disease that involves the colon (ulcerative colitis), or the colon and the small intestine (Crohn’s disease)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Also called spastic colon, IBS is a disorder that causes abdominal pain (cramps), diarrhea and constipation; it results when the large intestine (the colon) is hypersensitive to various foods and stress
Lactose intolerance: Inability to digest the sugar that’s naturally in milk and dairy products, which leads to bloating and cramps
Pancreatitis: Inflammation in the pancreas that causes upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
Peptic ulcer: Acid damage to the lining of the stomach or duodenum (upper part of the small intestine), usually caused by taking anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin) or infection with a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
Ulcerative colitis: Chronic inflammation of the colon that causes diarrhea, pain and bleeding