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Posted on July 27, 2022 in Blog

Fort Sanders Regional Offers New Technologies for Gastroenterology Services

Excellent patient care is our pledge at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. The Fort Sanders Center for Digestive Health has long offered the latest state-of-the art technology to diagnose and treat gastrointestinal (GI) diseases. To provide the best possible care for patients, the Center for Digestive Health continually adds new technologies and procedures.

New Technology Means Earlier Treatment

Endoscopic ultrasound is the latest technology offered at the Center, enabling doctors to view any part of the GI tract, including the pancreas, liver, stomach, colon and rectum. Through these ultrasounds, a physician can find GI malignancies or tumors earlier and can often treat the area non-surgically. If cancer is detected, doctors can do a biopsy along the GI tract to properly diagnose the type and stage of cancer. This helps determine the most effective course of treatment.

Endoscopic ultrasounds can be paired with endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) for diagnosing problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas. The ultrasound can indicate any problems in these areas, allowing ERCP physicians to then examine the ducts between the liver and pancreas. Doctors can work to open the ducts or remove any obstructions, including gallstones.

Additionally, the Center offers radiofrequency ablation when surgery is not the appropriate choice for a patient. Ablation is used primarily to treat small liver tumors. The procedure sends electricity through a needle electrode into the tumor, creating heat that kills the cancer cells.

Diagnosed and Treated, All in the Same Place

The Center for Digestive Health provides a range of diagnostic and treatment resources, offering comprehensive services to patients. Access to specialists at Fort Sanders Regional allows for collaborative care and treatment options.

“The coordinated treatment for patients leads to better communication among the doctors, which provides quicker and better service for patients,” says Ramanujan Samavedy, MD, Gastrointestinal Associates (GIA) physician and board-certified gastroenterologist at Fort Sanders Regional. “This is the only dedicated digestive center in the region offering this kind of advanced technology for better treatment of GI problems and diseases.”

Benefits to the Patient

“Staging via endoscopic ultrasounds enables doctors to create a more accurate plan for treatment,” says Dr. Samavedy. “This leads to better outcomes for the patient and, in some cases, avoids surgery.”

Patients who are treated with the advanced technologies available at the Center for Digestive Health typically have a shorter stay and quicker recovery. Many outpatients are able to go home the same day, including patients undergoing endoscopic drainage. This process is an option for patients suffering from abdominal cysts that need to be drained.

Get Screened to Protect Your Health

Routine screenings, especially of the colon, are important for early identification of polyps, which can lead to cancer. GIA gastroenterologist Jason Huffman, MD, encourages adults to start getting colonoscopies between the age of 45 and 50, and then every 10 years as long as the results are normal. Dr. Samavedy adds that if someone in your family has had colon cancer, it is important to get screenings beginning 10 years younger than the age that person was diagnosed. For instance, if your father was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 50, you should start screenings at age 40 and then every 10 years if results are normal.

“One in three males and one in four females will experience polyps in their lifetime, which can lead to cancer,” says Dr. Samavedy. “Only 50 to 60 percent of people eligible for a colonoscopy are getting one routinely.”

Dr. Samavedy encourages the public to take advantage of routine screenings. “There are several methods of screenings available,” he says. “Talk to your doctor to determine which type is best for you.”