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Gastroenterology Blog

Gallstone Risk Factors & Symptoms Explained

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Apr 13, 2018 @ 11:17 AM

gallstonesThe gallbladder is a small organ found on the abdomen’s right side, beneath the liver.  Its primary purpose is store bile that is released after eating as an aid in fat digestion.  However, the gallbladder can occasionally do more harm than good when it fails to function properly.

What are Gallstones?

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that occur in the gallbladder or the bile duct.  The size of these deposits can range from as small as a single grain of rice to as large as a golf ball.  Some patients only experience one, while others may have several. 

Symptoms of Gallstones

Many gallstones cause no symptoms whatsoever.  However, those that block the bile duct can lead to a number of painful and bothersome symptoms associated with the resulting inflammation, a condition also known as cholecystitis.  These symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness located in the upper right abdomen (Pain may also be felt in the upper right back and shoulder.)
  • Discomfort or pain after eating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever

Risk Factors for Developing Gallstones

Some patients are more likely to develop gallstones than others based on the presence of certain risk factors.  These include:

  • Family history of gallstones
  • Being overweight
  • Eating a diet that is high in fat or cholesterol or low in fiber
  • Experiencing rapid weight loss
  • Being pregnant
  • Being over 60 years old
  • Being female
  • Being of Mexican or Native American descent

Treatment for Gallstones

Some cases of gallstones, particularly those which are asymptomatic, may be initially treated with medications and changes in diet.  However, most patients who are experiencing symptoms from the condition will require gallbladder removal.  This procedure is safe and effective, and any side effects that patients may experience regarding digestive changes are generally mild and temporary. 

If you are experiencing the symptoms of gallstones, contact Gastroenterology Associates, and request an appointment with one of our Baton Rouge gastroenterologists.  Our physicians can confirm your diagnosis and discuss the most effective treatment options available to bring relief. 

Why should I visit a gastroenterologist

Topics: Gallbladder

Will I Regain Weight After the Gastric Balloon?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Apr 09, 2018 @ 12:00 AM

Close up of a woman standing on the scales in hospitalIf you’ve decided to give the gastric balloon a try for weight loss, you have likely been on a long journey to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Exercise programs, diet fads, and medication – you may feel as though you have tried them all.  With each attempt, regardless of how much success you have found, it has always been temporary, and the weight has always come back.  It is only natural as you consider the pros and cons of this weight loss procedure that you have your fair share of skepticism.  How can you know that this time will be different? 

To answer this question, it is important to first understand what constitutes realistic expectations of weight loss from the gastric balloon. 

How Much Weight Will I Lose with the Gastric Balloon?

Because the gastric balloon is designed specifically for those with a lower body mass index than other surgical alternatives, patients will not lose the same large amounts of weight.  A gastric bypass patient can lose over 100 pounds, and candidates for the gastric balloon will typically lose 20 – 40 pounds (or 10 – 20% of their body weight) over the six months the balloon in place.

How Can I Maintain Weight Loss from the Gastric Balloon?

In addition to the total amount of weight lost, the gastric balloon differs from alternative procedures in a number of other ways.  Perhaps most significant is the fact that the balloon does not make any permanent change to anatomy.  The balloon is placed inside the stomach and then removed after a six-month period.  This temporary placement of the balloon does not equate to temporary weight loss. 

One of the most important components of a successful gastric balloon procedure is medical guidance and support to help patients make permanent lifestyle changes.  The six month timeframe should not only be a time of weight loss, it should also be a time of education.  With comprehensive coaching by experts in both dietary and exercise programs, patients are able to learn healthy habits while simultaneously dropping pounds.  By the time the balloon is removed, the majority of patients have made turned the lessons they learned into lasting habits, enabling them to easily maintain the weight they have lost.

While it is certainly understandable to have concerns about regaining weight, if you are committed to the complete program, including coaching, you can count on both achieving and maintaining desirable results. 

For those in Baton Rouge or the surrounding areas, the O.N.E. Weigh program offers the gastric balloon procedure performed by skilled gastroenterologists.  To learn more about the program and if you may be a candidate, contact us by clicking below.  

LEARN MORE ABOUT GASTRIC BALLOON

Topics: Gastric Balloon

Life With IBD: 4 Tips for Managing Symptoms

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Apr 05, 2018 @ 12:50 PM

Young woman with hot water bottle on stomach on the bedFor most, stomach troubles are an occasional issue that causes short-term discomfort when a virus or bacterial infection is involved.  But, for over 1.5 million others, their digestive struggles are far more severe.  In fact, for those who are living with the condition known as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, painful flare-ups of the disease can be a life-long struggle with the ability to impact nearly every facet of day-to-day life.

Fortunately, IBD doesn’t have to mean drastically altering one’s lifestyle or the activities they most enjoy.  It simply means that there will be additional preparation needed and some key changes to help manage the onset of symptoms and help keep them at bay.

Eat an IBD Focused Diet

Nutrition is a vital component in all aspects of health, particularly when it comes to managing IBD.  Each individual will respond uniquely to different foods, and there is no one-size-fits-all diet to ease IBD.  However, most patients will find certain foods that tend to aggravate symptoms and that avoiding them helps keep issues such as cramping or diarrhea in check.  Partnering with a good nutritionist can help patients get a jump start on managing IBD through diet.

Avoid Exacerbating IBD through Stress

Stress does far more than affect the emotions and mental state of wellbeing, it can take a large toll physically as well.  Just consider for a moment a time when you have felt particularly anxious about something.  Can you feel the sensation of your stomach in knots?  When you already have IBD to contend with, stress can be yet another factor worsening the symptoms.  To help keep them under control, learn and practice calming techniques like meditation or deep breathing and consider speaking to a professional for additional methods that may prove helpful.

Quit Smoking to Improve IBD

Research has uncovered an interesting link between smoking and IBD, particularly in the form of Crohn’s disease. Findings have shown that smokers are more likely to suffer from Crohn’s than non-smokers, are more likely to relapse, and that treatment options are less effective.  Of course, there are countless health-related reasons to kick the smoking habit, but for those who also suffer from IBD, quitting could make a significant difference in the condition and its impact.

Find an IBD Specialist You Trust

Perhaps the most important factor in effectively managing IBD is finding a specialist in whom you have complete confidence.  A good physician will do more than simply write a prescription.  He or she will be your partner in managing your medications, lifestyle, nutrition, and all other elements which may impact your disease.  They will align their treatment plan with other medical professionals who may also be able to help in order to give their patients the best possible outcome.  To find this physician, consider speaking with other local IBD patients about their own doctors and what they like most about them. 

In the Baton Rouge area, Gastroenterology Associates is home to a team of skilled, board-certified physicians who are all intimately familiar with IBD and the impact it has on their patients’ lives.  If you are ready to get your condition under control, contact our office and request an appointment with any one of them today.

 Chohn's & Colitis: Know More

Topics: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

5 Benefits of the Gastric Balloon [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 @ 7:24 PM

Smiling young woman excited about the scaleFor patients who are considering turning to a weight loss procedure, the decision nearly always comes after countless other efforts.  In fact, the majority have been attempting weight loss on their own for an average of 3 to 4 years before looking into medical alternatives, and the decision to seek outside help is rarely an easy one.  Patients may feel that they have failed at losing the weight on their own, or they may fear undergoing a major medical operation. 

For some, the gastric balloon could be the best option to both drop the pounds and alleviate these concerns.  The procedure not only requires active lifestyle and dietary change on the part of the patient to help maximize and maintain results following the balloon’s removal at six months, it is also a far less invasive option than most alternatives.  Learn more about the gastric balloon and how it may benefit you in the infographic below.

Gasto_BalloonInfographic

LEARN MORE ABOUT GASTRIC BALLOON

Colonoscopy Fears: Why You Shouldn't Listen to Your Gut

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 @ 4:56 PM

colonoscopy fears.jpegColorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Americans.  Fortunately, it is also one of the most preventable with early detection.  This is why colonoscopies at the age of 50 (or sooner for high-risk patients) have become the standard recommended screening test.  Not only can these procedures detect existing colorectal cancer, they also allow gastroenterologists to find and remove pre-cancerous polyps before they have an opportunity to progress.  However, there are still many who put off the test, oftentimes due to fears that are unwarranted such as the following.

A Colonoscopy is going to be Embarrassing

There are many patients who are embarrassed to talk about a colonoscopy, much less have one.  They may feel that they will be exposed with doctors and nurses seeing them in a vulnerable position, but these concerns are unfounded.  The medical professionals who perform colonoscopies do this same procedure countless times over the course of their career.  Not only is it something they are used to seeing frequently, they are focused only at the job at hand by viewing the monitor where the images are displayed.  Rest assured that those in the room with you will be far more concerned with the interval view than the external one.

A Colonoscopy is going to Hurt

The assumption that a colonoscopy may be painful may seem logical, but it could not be further from the truth.  Patients are sedated before their procedure and will not feel a thing.  Furthermore, the scope itself is a very thin and flexible tube that should cause no discomfort.  In the majority of cases, the most discomfort patients feel after their procedure, if any, is from trapped gas that soon passes.

I’m Scared to get my Colonoscopy Results

Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown that keeps someone from receiving their colonoscopy.  They may fear that their physician will find evidence of cancer.  Fortunately, most colonoscopies give good results, and when performed in a timely manner, they can actually prevent the vast majority of colorectal cancers from ever developing.  In reality, putting off a colonoscopy should be a far greater fear than the results of one done at a recommended age.

I Don’t have Time for a Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy does require a certain investment of time.  Patients will need to take the day off of work, find someone to drive them, and prepare the day before by drinking a colon-cleansing liquid.  The truth, however, is that patients don’t have the time to NOT get a colonoscopy.  Putting this test off to avoid an unpleasant drink or time away from work is simply nonsensical, as the end result could be far more dangerous and time-consuming. 

If you are at average risk for colorectal cancer and are 50 years old or are 45 and at high-risk, don’t let anxiety about a colonoscopy prevent you from receiving this critical screening.  By getting the procedure, you will find that your fears beforehand were unfounded and that the anticipation was the worst part by far.  Furthermore, you will be safeguarding your health for years to come, as a colonoscopy with a negative result does not need to be repeated for 10 years. 

Ready to schedule?  Contact Gastroenterology Associates, and request a consultation with one of our gastroenterologists today.

Contact Our Colon  Cancer Screening Clinic 

Topics: Colonoscopy

Baton Rouge Hemorrhoid Patient Questions: The Answers You Need

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 @ 9:54 AM

Hemorrhoid Treatment at Digestive Health Center of LouisianaPatients suffering from hemorrhoids may have questions related to their condition.  However, most patients shy away from seeking answers and solutions due to embarrassment.  Over 3 million hemorrhoid cases are diagnosed annually, and physicians are able to offer various treatment options including topical ointments and hemorrhoid banding.

 

Why do I get Hemorrhoids?

Clusters of veins in the anus and rectum become swollen in a condition commonly referred to as hemorrhoids (also known as piles).  Up to 75 percent of Americanswill deal with the condition at some point as a result of pressure in the lower rectum.  Causes that may contribute to this pressure and resulting hemorrhoids include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Sitting on the toilet for extended periods of time

Additionally, older adults and those who do not get enough daily fiber may be at an increased risk for developing hemorrhoids.

Are Hemorrhoids Dangerous?

The major complications of hemorrhoids are discomfort and itching or no symptoms at all. In rare cases, blood loss from hemorrhoids could lead to iron deficiency anemia which would require further medical evaluation. 

Do I Need to See a Doctor for Hemorrhoids?

If you are experiencing the symptoms of hemorrhoids, particularly rectal bleeding, you should seek medical treatment. 

How can my Hemorrhoids be Treated?

In mild cases, home remedies are often effective at easing hemorrhoid-related symptoms.  These may include applying over-the-counter ointments or pads, eating a high-fiber diet, and soaking in a warm bath.  If hemorrhoids are persistent and unresponsive to home treatment, please contact a gastroenterologist.  You may be a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure known as hemorrhoid banding. During this procedure, rubber bands are placed around the hemorrhoid in order to cut off its blood supply thus causing it to die and fall off in roughly one week’s time. 

If you are experiencing the symptoms of hemorrhoids, schedule an appointment with a Baton Rouge gastroenterologist to discuss the best treatment options for your case.

 

SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

 

Topics: Hemmorhoids

Abdominal Pain: When is it Time to Visit a Gastroenterologist?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 @ 12:26 PM

Woman lying on sofa looking sick in the living room.jpegWe’ve all experienced abdominal pain at some point.  It can be bothersome and frustrating.  But, what if your abdominal pain reaches the point of concern?  If you’ve had ongoing or severe pain, you may find yourself wondering when you should see a physician, and you are right to do so.  While many stomach pains resolve on their own or respond to certain methods of self-medication, there are others that require a more in-depth look.

Not sure which category your discomfort falls into?  Here are some general guidelines to help you determine when it’s time to see your gastroenterologist.

Location of Abdominal Pain Matters

While it is often the severity of pain that prompts an appointment, the location of abdominal pain is an important factor as well.  The abdomen covers a large area and encompasses many important organs.  Paying attention to where your pain originates can be helpful in determining its root cause.

Pain in the upper, middle abdomen – This location is where the esophagus connects with the stomach.  Pain here is commonly associated with heartburn.  Often, it can be relieved with simple antacids.  However, chest pain due to heart problems, heartburn or other conditions such as inflammation/musculoskeletal pain or even panic attacks, may present in the same way.  Therefore, it is best to seek medical care to determine the cause.  It is always better be safe than sorry, by not missing serious conditions, rather than assuming it is something simple.

Pain in the lower abdomen – If you have a general feeling of cramping or discomfort in the lower abdomen, constipation in the likely culprit.  The condition is often passing and may be helped along with increased fluid and fiber intake or laxatives.  However, if the problem persists or recurs often, a gastroenterologist should be consulted.

Additionally, it is important to note that while many patients assume pain in this area could indicate colon cancer, the disease and associated polyps may not cause ANY symptoms. This is why everyone above 50 needs a colonoscopy, even if they are feeling fine, and sometimes earlier if other risk factors are present.

Pain that is localized – Pain that is localized to one side or the other of the abdomen could indicate an underlying problem with an organ.  Pain in the right, lower abdomen, for instance, could come from the appendix, while the gallbladder may cause pain in the upper right area.  In any case, persistent pain in a localized area should be examined by a doctor.

Severity and Endurance of Abdominal Pain

In general, fleeting abdominal pain is not a cause for concern.  In many cases, your body is able to deal with the source of pain and get you back to normal relatively quickly.  However, this is not always the case.  Seek medical attention immediately if your pain is severe or if it associated with any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Bloody stools
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Yellowing skin or eyes
  • Abdominal swelling or tenderness
  • Shortness of breath

While most cases of abdominal pain are relatively harmless, there are always exceptions.  Still, it is important not to Google your symptoms and allow yourself to assume the worst possible condition such as cancer.  This will only give you undue anxiety regarding your health.  If you experience the above symptoms, it is important to promptly seek medical care.  Then, allow your physician and their medical knowledge to assess the nature and seriousness of your condition and treat it accordingly.

In Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas, patients can contact Gastroenterology Associates and request an appointment to discuss any gastroenterology-related concerns, including abdominal pain. 

SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

Topics: Abdominal Pain

Gastric Balloon vs. Lap Band: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 @ 1:40 PM

Gastric Balloon vs Lap Band If you are searching for a weight loss solution that is effective and also reversible, you may have narrowed your search down to the gastric balloon and the gastric band, otherwise known as the Lap Band. Both meet the criteria of delivering weight loss results with the option of reversibility. However, there are also many differences between these two procedures, and knowing these differences just might help you make the decision that is best for you and your health.

Defining Gastric Balloon and Lap Band

Before we delve into the qualities that separate these two options, it is important first to understand what each offers:

Gastric Band – The gastric band is an adjustable band that is placed around the upper portion of the stomach. This restriction slows the consumption of food, as the part of the stomach above the band fills more quickly and leads to a feeling of fullness.

Gastric Balloon – The gastric balloon is inserted into the stomach through the esophagus and then inflated. By occupying space within the stomach, the balloon restricts the amount of food that can be consumed and leads to feeling full faster.

Gastric Balloon is Less Invasive than Lap Band

The Lap Band is considered to be minimally invasive, using laparoscopic placement through small cuts along the stomach and requiring less down time than alternatives such as gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy. However, the gastric balloon is the only non-invasive option among these weight loss procedures. By being endoscopically inserted and inflated through the esophagus, the balloon circumvents the need to make any cuts and drastically reduces the associated recovery time.

Complications from the Gastric Balloon and Lap Band

Any procedure comes with potential complications, but ideally, those risks should be relatively low. However, in recent years, the Lap Band has dropped in popularity, partly due to its high risk of complication, which has been reported to be anywhere from 25 – 50 percent. These complications can range from the relatively harmless such as constipation and GERD to far more severe problems such as blood clots and esophageal dilation.

The associated risks with gastric balloon are far less prevalent and severe. Most patients have no side effects at all, with the most commonly noted complications include vomiting and abdominal pain that subsides within a few days. Additional complications, although rare, may include balloon deflation or pancreatitis.

Weight Loss Success from Gastric Balloon and Lap Band

Both the gastric balloon and Lap Band require that patients commit to a certain lifestyle and dietary changes to achieve and maintain maximum weight loss results. In the case of the Lap Band, there is typically an immediate weight loss that quickly slows to a steadier pace in the following 2-3 years. Still, inadequate weight loss following the surgery is a concern and accounts for 40 percent of all band removals.

Unlike the band, which many patients consider to be a permanent fix, the gastric balloon procedure comes with an upfront disclosure regarding its temporary nature and the patient’s commitment. There will be medically-backed, weight loss support throughout the process, as balloon recipients learn how to best care for their bodies through diet and exercise. Additionally, the balloon comes with the understanding that it will be removed after six months. It is not a quick fix. Rather, it is a way to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle by putting patients on the path to success with early weight loss and medical support.

If you have a BMI between 30 and 40 and are searching for a healthy way to begin your weight loss journey without invasive surgery, the gastric balloon could be the best option for you. Learn more by requesting a consultation through O.N.E. Weigh with any of our skilled gastroenterologists, and begin your journey to health.

Learn More About The Gastric Balloon

 

Topics: Gastric Balloon

The Gastric Balloon Procedure: Is it Right for Me?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 @ 9:19 AM

Is Gastric Balloon Right for MeVery few American adults are pleased with their weight.  It’s what leads us to spend billions every year on dieting and weight loss. We all want to look and feel our best and we know that a healthy weight can protect us from a wide range of troublesome health conditions.  Yet, for many, that ideal weight seems to remain perpetually out of reach.

If you’re finding weight loss difficult, you certainly aren’t alone.  For reasons ranging from stress to medical complications, millions of Americans find themselves in the same situation.  Fortunately medical options such as the gastric balloon are available to help jumpstart your weight loss and achieve the results you’ve been working for.  Best of all, the procedure is quick, effective and does not involve the need for surgery.  Here are the details you need to determine if the gastric balloon is right for you:

How does the Gastric Balloon Work?

First, an endoscopy is done to inspect the inside of your stomach.  This is done under sedation, so you will not be awake! The deflated balloon will be inserted into your stomach through the mouth, and then filled with a sterile saline. The procedure is generally uncomplicated and lasts 20-30 minutes. You will regain awareness quickly and be monitored until your doctor discharges you (usually an hour or so). You will need someone to drive you home. You will be given detailed instructions on your aftercare.

Immediately before and after the procedure you will follow a special diet to allow the body to recover and adjust to the newly placed balloon.  The balloon remains in the stomach for six months. During that time period patients will eat less and lose weight as the balloon has filled a portion of the stomach.  Patients will also learn to adhere to healthier diet and exercise programs increasing the odds of success  even after the balloon is removed.

Who is a Candidate for the Gastric Balloon?

Individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30-40, a range considered obese or seriously obese.  Even in the presence of other necessary factors, patients may only qualify if they are within this range.  Additionally, the following should be present:

  • Committed to improving health and well-being – The gastric balloon will certainly help jumpstart weight loss. However, the most successful patients are those who fully commit themselves to living a new, healthier lifestyle and developing the tools needed for long-term success well beyond the balloon’s removal.
  • Willing to participate in a medically supervised program – Because the goal of the gastric balloon procedure is to aid patients in the early, most difficult stages of weight loss and lifestyle change, medical supervision and support is crucial. In order to ensure that patients are obtaining optimal results, our gastric balloon program, O.N.E. Weigh, utilizes a network of community partners who specialize in dietary and/or exercise programs. Throughout the course of the program, patients must commit to ongoing education and support with these partners through monthly meetings.
  • Ready to break through weight loss barriers without surgery – The gastric balloon is not a quick fix, but it also not major surgery. The ideal patient will be one who is thoroughly committed to their health and weight loss journey but wishes to reach these goals through less invasive options and often with the hope of avoiding surgical intervention.

If these factors sound familiar, there’s a good chance that the gastric balloon procedure is the one you’ve been searching for.  To know for sure, schedule a consultation with one of our gastroenterologists.  He or she will answer any questions you may have and offer additional insight surrounding the procedure, our ongoing support system, and long-term results.  When combined with your own commitment, it just may be the end to your weight struggles once and for all. 

 

Learn More About The Gastric Balloon

Topics: Gastric Balloon

Why Your Colonoscopy Shouldn’t be a Source of Stress

Posted by Dr. Neelima Reddy on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 @ 12:54 PM

colonscopy and stressThroughout the course of my medical training and my years as a physician, my perspective has changed in many ways.  I went from simply wanting a solid career to finding the practice of medicine that I was passionate about.  Eventually, I began to make the connection of what I studied in books to how it helps patients. The transition to independent patient management was different and gradual; there was no instructor behind me telling me what to do. Diagnosing and treating patients all by myself was a new feeling. Initially it was a little scary, but I quickly learned that my knowledge and experience was power to help others.

As a gastroenterologist, I would become anxious when I performed a colonoscopy on patients who had a family history of colon cancer or polyps.    I was nervous for them and about what I would find in them. I knew having a family history increased their risk of developing colon polyps and cancer. Oftentimes, the patient was in the same state of anxiousness as well. However, as my experience grew, I saw that the increased risk was minimal. I started explaining this to the patient as a way to help alleviate at least some of their anxiety. Some patients would say “Don’t find anything in me, Doc” and I wouldn’t! Those were the patients that usually had normal colons, but I think the experience helped them develop a positive attitude and encouraged them to take better care of themselves.

Those patients that were nervous before the procedure were relaxed afterwards, knowing that everything really was okay. If something was abnormal, it could usually be taken care of during the procedure For example, finding and removing a polyp. They were happy it was done, they were going to be fine, and they didn’t have to do it again for a few years.

Imagine the anxiety that a patient experiences before the procedure-- hours, days or even months depending on how long they put it off. This worry doesn’t change the end result. I tell them that I don’t find anything that’s not already in the colon, but finding it earlier gives them the benefit of potentially preventing cancer.  There is no benefit to being an ostrich, burying your head in the sand and closing your eyes to the symptoms or lack of symptoms. Many people attempt to justify their procrastination with an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. The danger here is that the most common symptom of colon cancer is no symptoms at all.

The undue anxiety before a colonoscopy is needless. If it is a “good stress” before a test that makes you study better and harder, then it is beneficial. If it makes you forget what you read, then it is of no use to you at all. Taking the right action at the right time, leaves no room for anxiety. So, prepare now to keep yourself healthy.  Take a deep breath, pick up the phone, and schedule your colonoscopy.  The only way it can change your future is for the better.

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Topics: Colonoscopy