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Fort Sanders Center for Digestive Health logoGastroenterology is the branch of medicine where the digestive system and its disorders are studied. This includes diseases that affect the entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which takes in food, digests it to extract energy and nutrients, and expels the remaining waste. The major functions of the GI tract are digestion and excretion. The upper GI tract consists of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and stomach. The lower GI tract includes the intestines (small and large) and the anus.

The Fort Sanders Center for Digestive Health offers the latest state -of-the-art technology available to diagnose, treat and manage gastrointestinal disease – all in ONE place!

Fort Sanders Center for Advanced Medicine
1819 Clinch Avenue, Suite 218
Knoxville, TN  37916

A variety of tests are available to help gastroenterologists (specialists in digestive disorders) diagnose and treat the cause of “GI blues.”

The Fort Sanders Center for Digestive Health has gastroenterologists Richard Cohn, MD; Jeffrey Brown, MD; Mark Jackson, MD; Muhammed Iqbal, MD; and Robert Pollack, MD, who offer a variety of diagnostic procedures, including the following:


Colonoscopy is the examination of the entire colon (large intestine) to look for early signs of colon cancer (polyps). Usually an outpatient procedure, colonoscopy is performed by inserting a flexible lighted tube into the rectum. It requires intravenous sedation and adequate preparation to clean the colon. The exam will take about 20 minutes but can save your life.

Colonoscopy screening is recommended for everyone at age 50 and every 10 years after that if the test is normal. People with a family history  of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or ulcerative colitis need to have the procedure at a younger age and more frequently.

“Colon cancer can be managed, treated and cured if found early,” says Dr. Jackson. “The thing I’ve learned over the past 25 years is the importance  of getting people past the fear and embarrassment of having to go through colonoscopy. The more people we can get screened the better.”

Capsule endoscopy (“PillCam”)

This high-tech procedure uses a pill-sized video camera to view images of the small intestine, which cannot be viewed with traditional upper endoscopy or colonoscopy. The camera takes multiple pictures of the small intestine as it passes through the bowel. The most common use is to search for causes of bleeding from the small intestine. It can also be used to test for Crohn’s disease and small bowel tumors.

On the day prior to the procedure a laxative solution is given to cleanse the small intestine. The PillCam is then swallowed and passes through the digestive tract while transmitting video images to a recorder worn on the patient’s belt. The test takes about eight hours.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

Upper GI endoscopy, sometimes called EGD, helps in diagnosing and treating esophagitis, heartburn, ulcers and bleeding. The procedure is the visual examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract using a lighted flexible endoscope. It is performed in an outpatient setting and utilizes intravenous sedation to relax the patient. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth into the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine. The exam takes about 5-10 minutes.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

ERCP enables the physician to diagnose problems that involve the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas. In this procedure a flexible lighted tube is passed through the mouth and into the stomach and upper intestine to visualize the opening to ducts from the liver and pancreas. Once identified, a narrow plastic tube is passed through the scope into the duct, where a dye is injected and X-rays are taken. If the exam shows a gallstone or narrowing of the ducts, specialized equipment can be used to remove the stones or relieve the obstruction. The exam takes 30-60 minutes.

Spy Glass

SpyGlassTM technology is a new alternative to traditional ERCP. With SpyGlassTM technology, physicians use a fiber optic probe that is attached to a camera to examine portions of a patient’s digestive system in great detail and perform biopsies from inside the bile ducts during the examination. This technology improves a physician’s ability to accurately diagnose or rule out cancer or other potentially serious conditions without the need for additional scans, tests or invasive surgery.

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) is a new treatment that has been shown to be over 90% effective for treating C. difficile infection in patients who had previously failed to recover with antibiotic therapy. The purpose of fecal transplant is to replace good bacteria that has been killed or suppressed, usually by the use of antibiotics, causing bad bacteria to over-populate the colon.