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Gastroenterology Blog

Gastroenteritis: Treating and Preventing a Common Stomach Bug

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Dec 28, 2018 @ 1:12 PM

stomach bug baton rougeStomach Flu. Stomach Bug. Stomach Virus.  All of these are common day names for gastroenteritis.  It certainly seems that Baton Rouge daycares, schools, workplaces, and other close-contact group environments have been seeing a lot of this going around over the past few weeks.

Gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection, typically having a sudden onset, with the most common symptoms being watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, body aches, and sometimes fever.  The illness is spread through contact with an infected person, by sharing towels, utensils, or other close contact situations, or by consuming contaminated food or water. 

Gastroenteritis From Viruses

Gastroenteritis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. The two most common viruses that cause gastroenteritis are:

  • Noroviruses. Norovirus is the most common cause of food-borne gastroenteritis worldwide.  It affects children and adults alike, as it is most often caused from consumption of contaminated food or water, but can also develop from coming into contact with others infected in the community (schools, daycares, colleges, offices) and touching infected surfaces.  An individual can get gastroenteritis numerous times in their lives from Norovirus, because there are many strains.  Most people with Norovirus begin to feel better in 1-3 days but remain contagious for approximately 3 days after symptoms subside.
  • Rotavirus. Children are typically the most affected by the Rotavirus bug, because they frequently put their unwashed hands to their mouths after touching a contaminated object.  Adults may have this virus without any symptoms and still be carriers of the virus.  Infants and young children are primarily affected and may develop severe symptoms.  The virus usually lies dormant for the first 1-2 days and symptoms can last from 3-8 days.  There is a vaccine for that protects against rotavirus but it doesn’t protect against all strains so a vaccinated individual may still get rotaviral gastroenteritis.

Gastroenteritis From Bacteria

Bacteria can also be the culprit of gastroenteritis and common causes are E. coli, shigella, and Salmonella.  These bacteria can enter into a person’s system from raw or contaminated foods, undercooked foods, improperly cleaned food preparation areas and utensils, and some seafood.  These bacteria can be spread by infected food handlers as well.

Gastroenteritis From Parasites

Parasites and protozoa, such as Giardia and cryptosporidium, can be causes of gastroenteritis as well. These bugs live in the intestines of infected animals and spread when unclean water is consumed.  Chemical toxins can also cause gastroenterological distress, possibly by seafood consumption or heavy metals in drinking water.

Who’s at Risk for Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis can be very difficult to bear and does not discriminate on who, when, or where it shows up.  There are several groups of individuals who may be more susceptible to contracting gastroenteritis and to experiencing the extreme end of the symptoms.

  • Young children and infants:  This group is often in close group settings and if the virus or bacteria introduces into the group, it is extremely likely to spread among the individuals.  Because their immune systems aren’t fully developed, they can experience more severe symptoms and should see a doctor if they seem dehydrated, lethargic, in a lot of pain, has bloody diarrhea, and/or has a fever of 102.  Infants should be closely monitored and brought in immediately if they have a sunken fontanel, have been vomiting for several hours, have bloody stools, have a dry mouth or cry without tears (a sign of dehydration), or are unusually sleepy or unresponsive.

 

  • Older Adults/Elderly:   As we age, our immune systems tend to become less efficient, and thus, older adults are much more susceptible to the causes of gastroenteritis.  Older individuals that reside in nursing or retirement homes are particularly vulnerable to these “bugs” because they are in such close contact with other individuals who may be infected with or carrying the viruses.

 

  • Individuals with Weakened Immune Systems:  People who are undergoing chemotherapy, who are living with HIV/AIDS, or who have other medical issues are particularly at risk for contracting these viruses because their immune systems simply do not have the ability to effectively ward off the onset of symptoms.  The effects of gastroenteritis can be much more severe as well for these high-risk patients.

 

The real danger of gastroenteritis lies in dehydration of an individual.  The loss of fluids and electrolytes, salts, and minerals poses a problem if an individual cannot replenish their fluid levels.  Severe dehydration can result in the need for hospitalization and IV fluids to restore balance.

Treatment of Gastroenteritis

Self-treatment and care of one’s self is typical protocol for treatment of gastroenteritis, unless complications arise.  Rest, let your stomach settle by abstaining from food for a few hours, and try to drink clear fluids or eat ice chips in the earliest stage of gastroenteritis.  Once an individual is ready to try eating again, it’s best to stick to a bland, easy to digest diet, often referred to as a BRATs diets (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast).  Other simple foods that help ease the transition back to eating are gelatin, crackers, chicken, and light soups or broths.  Avoiding dairy products, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, high fat foods, or extremely salty foods are a general recommendation for people dealing with gastroenteritis.  Medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can upset the stomach as well and should be avoided if possible. 

Children should be given oral rehydration solutions, such as Pedialyte, in order to help their systems re-regulate. The World Health Organization recommends an Oral Rehydrating Solution (ORS) of 1 quart water with 2 tbsp sugar and 0.5 tsp salt. Apple juice should be avoided, as it can worsen diarrhea. Infants with gastroenteritis should have their stomach “rest” after bouts of vomiting or diarrhea and they should be offered breast milk, if breastfed or formula with oral rehydrating solution or water mixed in.  Formula should be mixed as usual and not be diluted.

A simple stomach virus should resolve in 1-2 days.  If it persists, it could be an infection that needs to be treated.  If gastroenteritis has become a chronic problem, it will need further evaluation.

Preventing Gastroenteritis

Primary measures of prevention come from inhibiting the spread of the germs- hand washing, not sharing personal items (eating utensils, towels, etc), disinfecting hard surfaces, and avoiding contact with infected individuals.  Vaccinations for children in their first year of life for the rotavirus strain of gastroenteritis can help to reduce instances for this vulnerable and commonly affected group of young individuals.

If you are suffering from symptoms of gastroenteritis in Baton Rouge, a gastroenterologist can help.  Contact Gastroenterology Associates, and request an appointment with any one of our many qualified physicians.

Why should I visit a gastroenterologist

  Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Gastroenterologists, Common Stomach Problems

GASTROENTEROLOGY ASSOCIATES WINS THREE NATIONAL SCOPY MARKETING AWARDS FROM ACG

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 @ 11:46 AM

gastro_SCOPY_appleThe American College of Gastroenterology selected the Gastroenterology Associates of Baton Rouge as the winner of three SCOPY awards for their 2014 and 2015 Colorectal Cancer Awareness campaigns.

The winning categories included: “Best Original Communication Campaign by a Private GI Practice,” “Best Infographic from a Private GI Practice” for Get Behind Screening, and “Most Humorous” for the Things that are Scary video. The winning submissions were selected based on scientific accuracy, potential public health impact, educational value, and originality.

The Gastroenterology Associates Marketing Committee, comprised of Dr. Neelima Reddy, Dr. Kirk Mullins, and Dr. Ryan Chauvin, worked closely with a marketing agency also located in Baton Rouge, LA, in the budgeting, planning, and creative review processes to maximize potential reach, stretch allocated budgets, monitor efficacy, and produce impactful, creative content.

The Colorectal Campaigns, Get BEHIND Screening (2014) and Things That Are Scary (2015), spurred from physician-agency meetings and established the end goals of CRC awareness AND of increasing CRC screenings.  Creative concepts, encompassing print, TV, digital, outdoor, peer-to-peer, in-house signage, and website content strategy, were presented, selected, and implemented.

Community awareness events extended to the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K and 1 mile fun run and numerous TV interviews with our physicians. Active promotion of CRC information on blog posts, whitepapers, social platforms, emails, digital ads, and landing pages produced patient appointments and measurable performance data.

Dr William Anderson, of Gastroenterology Associates, states, “We are honored to have been awarded the SCOPY award for excellence in advertisement by the American College Gastroenterology, but we are even more honored to have served the people of Baton Rouge for the last 40 years.  We hope that our community will continue to entrust us with your and your loved ones health care.”

The ACG created the SCOPY awards (Service Award for Colorectal Cancer Outreach Prevention & Year-Round Excellence) as a new way to honor its members for their efforts to promote Colorectal Cancer Awareness. The SCOPY winners will be honored at the College’s 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting in Hawaii.

Click here to view the award-marketing.

15 facts about colorectal cancer

Topics: Cancer, Gastroenterologists

Endoscopic Ultrasound: Gastroenterology Associates Case Studies

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 @ 3:06 PM

Upper-GI-EndoscopyEndoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) is an outpatient, minimally invasive procedure whereby an endoscopic tube is inserted into the mouth (for an upper GI EUS) or the anus/rectum (for a lower GI EUS).  The endoscopic tube is outfitted with an ultrasound device on the tip that provides imaging from the inside of a patient, as opposed to alternative imaging measures that come from the outside of a patient inward, like X-ray, CT or PET scans, and MRIs. 

Two physicians at Gastroenterology Associates, Dr Neelima Reddy and Dr Walker McDonald, are specially trained to perform Endoscopic Ultrasound.  Because they are the only two providers of this service outside of New Orleans, patients from all over south Louisiana and even southern Mississippi come to Gastroenterology Associates to have their EUS completed.

Not only is Gastroenterology Associates a specialty group practice for digestive health, it is housed in the Digestive Health Center with Louisiana Endoscopy Center, allowing seamless provision of services to all patients under one roof.

While mostly performed in a hospital setting, we are proud to be the only center to offer this procedure in a safe and convenient outpatient setting.

Since 2009, Dr Reddy and Dr McDonald have performed EUS with various presentations in their patients.  A few of the cases for which an EUS was performed and the resulting diagnosis are shared below.

Case Study #1:

Pancreatitis-Baton-RougeA 45 year old woman was noted to have an incidental pancreatic cyst in the head of the pancreas and sent for further evaluation by EUS. At EUS examination, the entire pancreas was examined. Like most cysts, the cyst in the head was a fluid collection and not a concern. 

However during the EUS, an abnormal area was noted in the tail of the pancreas. It was found to be pancreatic cancer, confirmed by a biopsy. The results of the biopsy were obtained within minutes, even before completion of the procedure!

 The patient had an uneventful surgery and recovered well, all due to the early diagnosis of cancer, well before any symptoms occurred. This is not true of all pancreatic cancers, as the course of the diagnosis and treatment depends on the location and the stage of the tumor at diagnosis.

Case Study #2:

A 55 year old man was referred for EUS after 12 years of symptoms related to low blood sugars. He had to eat frequently or would pass out. 

After extensive testing, he was found to have high levels of insulin. While a tumor producing insulin was suspected, it could not be detected by CT scan, PET scan, or other special scans. An endoscopic ultrasound examination of the pancreas revealed a large tumor that was biopsied during the procedure.   The results were immediate and actually came back during the procedure. They confirmed the tumor to be a neuroendocrine tumor which produces excess insulin. 

The patient did well after surgery to remove the tumor and recently returned, 7 years after surgery, for his routine colonoscopy.

Case Study #3:

A small rectal cancer, noted during colonoscopy, was determined to be in a superficial stage after an EUS was performed.  The patient only underwent a minimal surgical procedure to remove the cancerous cells, rather than the more invasive and routine abdominal surgery.

Case Study #4:

Two patients presented with repeated attacks of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), but they had no obvious cause for their condition. Both patients were referred for EUS examination of the pancreas to find a potential cause of recurrent pancreatitis.

One patient was noted to have sludge or small stones in the gallbladder which had not been detected by routine ultrasound. These were removed in surgery in order to prevent further attacks of pancreatitis. 

The other patient was determined to have a small tumor, noted in EUS and biopsied. That patient was subsequently sent for surgery to remove the tumor.

Endoscopic Ultrasound In Baton Rouge, Louisiana

For many patients suffering with abdominal pain or uncertain previous test results, the mental anguish can be even more difficult to endure than the physical pain.  The arsenal of procedures, expert physicians, and state-of-the-art facilities available at Gastroenterology Associates enable many unanswered questions to come to resolution and to chart a course of action for treatment.

One such procedure is the Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS). , EUS is the standard of care in the local staging of most digestive cancers, such as esophageal, stomach, pancreas, or rectal cancers. Numerous conclusive diagnoses have been made for patients via EUS at Gastroenterology Associates and resulted in positive outcomes. 

If ongoing abdominal pain or problems that have yet to be identified are an issue for you, schedule a consult with Gastroenterology Associates. Our physicians will determine if EUS or other tests would be appropriate for you. They want to help their patients have the best digestive health and to see them get well. To schedule a consult, call 225.927.1190 or use the online form in the button below.

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Gastroenterologists, Endoscopic Procedures

Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) in Baton Rouge: Only at Gastroenterology Associates

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 3:56 PM

Dr Walker McDonald and Dr Neelima Reddy of Gastroenterology Associates are the only specialists to provide endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) in the Baton Rouge area. This minimally invasive procedure is extremely useful for evaluating and diagnosing a range of conditions, including cancers of the esophagus, lung, pancreas or stomach, colon, ampulla, and rectum.  If you need an endoscopic ultrasound, then the physicians at Gastroenterology Associates will take care of you throughout the process, from initial consult through the procedure to follow up care.

What is EUS?

Labelled_dig_tractAn endoscopic ultrasound is a procedure that doctors use to examine your upper or lower digestive tract. The endoscopist passes a flexible tube, known as an endoscope, into the mouth for an upper EUS or the anus for the lower EUS. A tiny ultrasound probe that is built into the endoscope creates images of the internal organs, allowing the doctor to look for abnormalities.

Who Needs EUS and Why?

EUS is a useful technique for diagnosing many conditions. If you have symptoms, such as abdominal pain or unintended weight loss, then your doctor might recommend an EUS to find out what the problem is. 

EUS is the current standard of care for local staging to evaluate the depth of tumors or involvement of the surrounding lymph nodes or blood vessels. Determining if surgery is appropriate, for many digestive tract cancers such as those of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, or rectum, can also be accomplished with an Endoscopic Ultrasound. Surgeons and oncologists frequently request this test for additional insight on a patient before starting treatment.

Gastroenterology Associates is a “one stop shop” for patients, providing all the tests needed for diagnosis and staging, under one roof, in a timely and convenient manner. Some of the comprehensive tests include endoscopy, colonoscopy, CT scan, labs, and EUS.

We receive referrals from other physicians and facilities in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Iberia, St. Francisville, and Hammond to provide Endoscopic Ultrasound for their patients. Prior to initiation of this service in 2009 by Dr. Reddy, all local and regional patients needing and EUS were referred out of town.

Some of the conditions an EUS evaluates are:

  • Cancers of the esophaguslungpancreasstomachcolonampullagallbladder and rectum
  • Lymphoma, or evaluation of enlarged lymph nodes in the chest (mediastinum), around the lungs/ airway (this is a safe, quick and easy procedure compared to a complicated surgical procedure called mediastinoscopy for sampling these lymph nodes next to the heart and lungs)
  • Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition caused by long standing acid reflux/ heartburn
  • Neuroendocrine tumors, special tumors that may produce hormones and symptoms or may be cancerous, difficult to be diagnosed by other tests
  • Acute or recurrent Pancreatitis from unknown cause when a cause needs to be identified for pancreatitis or
  • Chronic pancreatitis where damage occurs from alcohol abuse
  • Pancreatic cysts, which may sometimes be precancerous
  • Bile duct stones, gallstones, tumors of the bile duct causing jaundice
  • Rectal fistulas
  • Fecal incontinence to evaluate for tears in the anal sphincter, resulting in stool leakage or accidents

It can also be used to take a closer look at lumps and lesions that have been picked up by other tests. Because ultrasound can see through tissue, EUS can also be used to look at organs that are near the digestive system, including the lungs, liver, pancreas, gall bladder, and bile duct in the upper GI tract and the bladder, uterus, ovaries, and prostate gland in the lower GI tract.

How to Prepare for EUS

To allow doctors to get a clear view of your digestive tract during EUS, the relevant organs need to be empty of food and water. If you are having an endoscopic ultrasound of the upper gastrointestinal tract, in which the scope is inserted through the mouth, then you need to avoid eating or drinking for roughly six hours before the procedure. Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding exactly when you need to start fasting. For lower EUS, in which the endoscope is inserted via the anus, your doctor will prescribe a colonic cleansing solution, laxatives, and a fasting schedule to prepare your system for the procedure. Follow the instructions exactly as your doctor prescribes to make sure your system is clear before the procedure.

In general, you can take medications as usual right up to the day of your procedure. However, there are a few exceptions, such as anticoagulants and insulin, which need to be adjusted so you can stay safe during the procedure. Let your doctor know exactly which medications you are taking so he or she can recommend a suitable adjustment. You also need to let your doctor know if you are allergic to latex, as some of the standard equipment can contain latex. As long as you let your doctor know everything you are taking and any allergies, it will usually be possible to make adjustments so you can safely have the procedure.

What to Expect During EUS

Upper_EUS_ASGE_largerMost people receive a sedative to help them relax during EUS. Sedation is done to ensure the efficacy of the physician and to assist patient’s relaxation during the EUS, which usually takes less than an hour and is only mildly uncomfortable. Simple benign lesions such as nodules in the esophagus or stomach may only need a few minutes to be diagnosed, sometimes without a biopsy. Should there be a need for a biopsy or drainage of a lesion, the procedure may take up to one or two hours to complete.

Passing an endoscope into the mouth and down the throat won't interfere with your ability to breathe, as the tube is very thin and flexible. The endoscopist will ensure that you remain safe and comfortable throughout the procedure.

After EUS

If you are sedated for your procedure, then you need to wait in the recovery area until the medication wears off before you can go home. Your throat might be a little sore if you have an upper EUS. In addition, you might feel bloated for a while after the procedure. Your doctor will let you know how the procedure went, but you might have to wait for a few days for results if you had a biopsy.

Complications of EUS

Complications of EUS are rare, but it's important to understand what the risks are before the procedure. Occasionally, patients react to the sedatives that are given. Infection, bleeding, damage to the lining of the intestine are fortunately rare complications. Most patients experience nothing more than a sore throat after upper EUS or minimal bleeding after a biopsy, as with other routine procedures like colonoscopy. These usually resolve quickly without requiring further treatment.

It is an outpatient procedure from which quick and complete recovery before discharge is expected. You may return to your activities the next day.

EUS at Gastroenterology Associates

Dr Walker McDonald and Dr Neelima Reddy have many years of experience of performing EUS. The specialized training for the procedure and the expert care in all other areas of gastroenterology from all 17 physicians means that patients have access to the largest and most complete care specifically for the digestive system.  

The Digestive Health Center houses Gastroenterology Associates and the Louisiana Endoscopy Center, so the procedure can take place in the convenience of the location at 9103 Jefferson Hwy in Baton Rouge.  By choosing Gastroenterology Associates for your endoscopic ultrasound in Baton Rouge, LA, you can be sure that you are in safe hands and will receive the most comprehensive and experienced care.

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Gastroenterologists, Endoscopic Procedures

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 1:38 PM

hepatitis in Baton RougeHepatitis is a word that means inflammation of the liver.  This inflammation can be caused by one of the five Hepatitis viruses or medications, like herbal supplements, over-the-counter meds, or antibiotics.  Determining the true cause of hepatitis can only be accomplished by consulting with a physician, preferably a gastroenteologist or hepatologist.

Hepatitis A,B, and C are the most common forms of the virus in the US.  Hepatitis A and B are both vaccinated against in the US and are not problematic for the general public here if vaccinations have been administered.  Hepatitis C currently does not have a vaccine, although there are current trials ongoing to test a potential Hepatitis C (HCV) vaccine for future implementation.

Hepatitis C in Baton Rouge

Hepatitis C has been a very expensive and uncomfortable disease to treat up until very recently.  There may be as many as 4 million people in the US with Hepatitis C.  Many people with the disease don't know that they have it until many years have passed and symptoms begin to present themselves.  75 % of the infected American population are individuals born between 1945 and 1960.  Definite identification of why this age group is so significantly predisposed to HCV is unknown.

Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus and a simple blood test can detect the virus.  Everyone in this Baby Boomer age group, anyone who ever received blood transfusions or organ donations before 1992, and anyone who has ever injected drugs should receive screening for Hepatitis C.

The Good News on Hepatitis C

A cure for Hepatitis C has been developed and is now on the market. There is a 90-95% success rate in curing Hepatitis C with these new drugs.  Two brands that have recently been FDA approved and launched in the US pharmaceuticals markets are Harvoni and Sovaldi

Dr Chris Christensen worked on the clinical trials of the new medications for treatment of Hepatitis C in Baton Rouge at Gastroenterology Associates.  He is eager to get all at-risk individuals tested and to get those that test positive for Hepatitis C on these new medications.  He discussed Hepatitis C and the treatments for Hepatitis Awareness Month with us.

Getting Tested

Gastroenterology Associates encourages everyone to get tested if you are a Baby Boomer or in one of the at-risk groups mentioned above.  It's easy to have blood drawn when you come in for your screening appointments. Simply ask your doctor to help you get screened for Hepatitis C.

 You should be screened (tested) for Hepatitis C if you:
  • were born between 1945 and 1960
  • received a blood transfusion or had surgery before 1992
  • illicit drug use by sharing needles or snorting cocaine
  • had a sexual contact with someone infected with hepatitis C
  • have hepatitis B or HIV
  • have unexplained elevation of liver enzymes

If it's time to schedule a consult, our team of board certified gastroenterologist are waiting to get you in as soon as possible.  Click the link below or call 225.927.1190 to schedule with our staff.

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Gastroenterologists, Hepatitis C

Why Go To Gastroenterology Associates For My Treatment?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 3:37 PM

gastro doctors Baton RougeGastroenterologists are doctors that specialize in the care and treatment of the digestive tract, from the mouth and esophagus, to the small and large intestine and rectum. 

The physicians practicing at Gastroenterology Associates in Baton Rouge, LA are all board certified gastroenterologists, with many of them holding extensive additional credentials and specializations.


Specialized Care is More Effective Care

The evidence is clear: seeing a gastroenterology specialist is associated with better care outcomes. Although many internal medicine and primary care physicians offer basic gastroenterology services such as colonoscopy, numerous studies show that experienced, board-certified gastroenterologists are able to provide higher quality care that can be life-saving.

What's the difference? Internists are doctors who specialize in the care of the human body. They act as generalists, providing primary care and identifying problems that require diagnosis or treatment from a specialist. Internists have gone through medical school as well as residency. When common digestive problems are encountered, if you do not improve with basic treatment or if you need a procedure such as an EGD/ upper endoscopy or a colonoscopy, your internist or family physician will refer you to a gastroenterologist.

Gastroenterologists have gone through all of the same training as internists, but received further training to become board-certified in the treatment of conditions affecting the gastrointestinal system, which includes the colon, bowel, stomach, and liver. Gastroenterologists typically complete hundreds of colonoscopies during their training, and continue to perform hundreds each year in their practice.

The Evidence

A recent study by Dr. Nancy Baxter from St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto examined Medicare billing records from over 9,000 people who were diagnosed with colon cancer and ultimately died from the disease in their 70s and 80s, along with 27,000 records from individuals who did not have colon cancer.

digestive health treatment in Baton RougeThe researchers found that people who did not have a colonoscopy in recent years were most likely to die from colon cancer, confirming what has long been found in colon cancer research. However, patients who received their colonoscopy from a board-certified gastroenterologist rather than an internist or a surgeon were most likely to have precancerous polyps found and removed early, resulting in lower mortality rates.

Other studies have confirmed these findings, and also found that surgeons come in second place when it comes to finding the highest number of polyps, behind gastroenterologists but ahead of primary care physicians who do colonoscopy.

Although gastroenterologists provide the best colonoscopy, it is of course better to get a colonoscopy from a general pracitioner or primary care pysician than to not get a colonoscopy at all if a gastroenterologist is not available. Gastroenterology Associates are able to provide access to gastroenterology care at one of our three locations in Baton Rouge, Zachary and Livingston.

Why Higher Volume = Better Results

Volume outcomes data suggests that the higher volume of procedures of a physician or clinic the better the outcomes. Even for conditions like pancreatitis, which is routinely treated with fluids and medications, the outcomes under treatment of a gastroenterologist still exceed those of a general practitioner. When done at a high volume center, patients did better than low volume centers.

Similarly, a recent study in the Journal of Surgical Oncology revealed that low volume centers (or those with less procedures done by a practitioner) were associated with increased odds of having adverse outcome. For complex colonoscopy, choosing a primary care specialtist as opposed to gastroenterologists, added to the odds of adverse events. All the physicians at Gastroenterology Associates are proficient in routine and specialized procedures and are dedicated to your safety and comfort during the procedures.

Colonoscopy and What Comes After

Another advantage of visiting the Gastroenterology Associates is that we are able to provide care for whatever issues are revealed during the colonoscopy. When you go to a primary care physician or surgeon, they may be able to detect abnormalities, but they will have to pass off the diagnosis or treatment of the problem to a gastroenterologist.

For patients with issues such as gastric reflux, anemia, difficulty swallowing, and abdominal pain, most primary care physicians will not be able to certainly diagnose without an upper endoscopy which may be used to detect stomach ulcers and esophageal cancer in patients with these conditions and symptoms. In addition, only gastroenterologists can perform ERCPs to examine the bile ducts. 

If a patient has anemia or blood in the stool, an upper endoscopy may still be needed and is performed by a gastroenterologist. It is best to have all treatments and care under the supervision of one physician and in one place. A capsule endoscopy may also be ordered if the cause of anemia is not found during colonoscopy or endoscopy. Gastroenterology Associates is the only group in Baton Rouge that can provide all these services in one place, including EUS (endoscopic ultrasound).

Gastroenterologists have the expertise to treat a wide range of gastrointestinal problems, including but not limited to: 

Colon cancer

Crohn's disease

Ulcerative colitis

Diverticulitis

Stomach ulcers 

Gallstones

Pancreatic conditions

GERD

Esophageal cancer

Bowel obstruction

Therefore, seeing a gastroenterologist for your colonoscopy allows you to do "one stop shopping." This is not just convenient, but it allows for an important continuity of care that can improve outcomes. For example, when the gastroenterologist is the same doctor who performed the colonoscopy, he has seen for himself what the colon looks like, and has more detail on the matter than is available in a report.

Getting a colonoscopy is an important health screening procedure for people over the age of 50 or earlier if you are African American or have a personal/family history. The procedure can detect growths that can lead to cancer, as well as other abnormalities. Although some primary care physicians offer colonoscopy, it is best to be screened at Gastroenterology Associates, which is run entirely by board-certified gastroenterologists.

If you are ready to schedule your appointment, the Gastroenterology Associates would be happy to hear from you. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information or give us a call at (225) 927-1190.

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

 

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Colonoscopy, Gastroenterologists, Gut Health

Why I Don’t Want A Colonoscopy, Part III

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 @ 9:00 AM

This is part of a series of 3 blog posts whereby a family member (FM) of a patient is having a discussion on colonoscopy and colon cancer screening with a gastroenterologist (D).  Many individuals find reasons to put off their recommended colon cancer screening. Many of these objections to screening are addressed in this series.  If you know someone who is resisting having their screening performed, please print or email them these 3 posts. It could save their life!

colon cancer screening Baton RougeWhy I Don’t Want A Colonoscopy, Part I

Why I Don’t Want A Colonoscopy, Part II

 

FM: I don’t want to take two days off.

D: You don’t have to. You will prep the evening before the procedure. So, you only need the day of the procedure off. You will only be asleep for the duration of the procedure, 20-30 minutes at the most. However, patients cannot drive after the procedure.

 

FM: I don’t want to pay a lot of money. I can’t afford it!

D: Most health insurance companies and Medicare cover 100% of a screening colonoscopy (meaning there are no symptoms) for everyone 50+. Our insurance and billing staff perform a check prior to the procedure and will inform you of your coverage. We are here to assist you with payment plans, etc. as needed.

Also, if you wait until you have symptoms, not only are you jeopardizing your health, but also your wallet. Why? At the point that there are symptoms (rectal bleeding, blood in stool, blood in toilet or on toilet paper, abdominal pain, changes in bowel frequency or consistency),   the colonoscopy will likely be considered diagnostic (meaning it’s performed to evaluate causes of symptoms), and copays or deductible may lead to patients incurring costs.

 

FM: I will think about doing the colonostomy.

D: A colonoscopy is the procedure we talked about. A colostomy is an opening of the colon on to the skin, with a bag covering it. A colonostomy or a colonoscophy are the most seen misspellings of colonoscopy.  

 So, now that we have handled all of your objections to colonoscopy, here is the phone number to call and schedule your colonoscopy. (225.927.1190) Patients do not need a referral from your doctor. The Open Access Colonoscopy Screening Clinic nurse will provide instruction and schedule you, provided you do not have any other symptoms.  If you do have symptoms, we can help schedule a consult appointment with one of our 17 board certified gastroenterologist in the clinic.

(D: To Self: Good! One more life saved, but I am now late for my next patient! Time to hurry, hurry, hurry!!)

 

Get Behind Screening!

Everyone should strongly consider having colon cancer screening procedures performed at a high volume center where the staff is most experienced and well-trained. Recent research indicates that the best outcomes happen when a colonoscopy is performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, as opposed to other physicians with less colonoscopy volume and subsequently less experience.  

 Board-certified gastroenterologists are trained for better detection and removal of polyps and appropriate treatment of any conditions noted, than other types of providers who may be just able to do a procedure. Gastroenterology Associates is dedicated to performing only gastrointestinal procedures with utmost levels of precision and care.  

With the largest group of board-certified gastroenterologists in Baton Rouge and surrounding regions, our facility and services are meant to help patients achieve their best digestive health and to prevent colon cancer through timely screening. If you haven’t had your preventative screening for colon cancer, call us at 225.927.1190 or use the link below to schedule with one of our great doctors!

Contact Our Colon  Cancer Screening Clinic  

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Colonoscopy, Gastroenterologists, Cancer

Self-Diagnosis with Dr Google

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 @ 3:22 PM

In the information age that we live in, it is easy to take the path of least resistance and avoid inconvenience when an ailment starts to cause concern and physical impairment.  Our desire for instant gratification can frequently be met with the quick Google search for a diagnosis fitting all of our symptoms.  Limitless outcomes can come from the results- self-delusion on the actual severity of physical conditions, over-reaction to the potential conditions, attempts at self-treatment, and potentially informing your physician of your new “condition” without any testing or physician assessments completed.

self_diagnosis_of_gastro_problems_in_BRThe slippery slope here is that self-diagnosis with Dr Google CANNOT replace the education and experience of a skilled physician.  When looking at the systems of the human body, particularly the abdominal area and organs, a much more complex picture of what could potentially be causing symptoms comes to light. Doctors learn a little more in medical school than a patient can learn in a few Google searches. So, based on where and how the pain presents or on evaluation of the symptoms, physicians are better suited to working up a comprehensive list of potential conditions and the organs that may be involved.

Things To Consider

Now, let us look at some concepts that a novice, “self-diagnoser” will likely not factor into their diagnosis:

1. There are several organs in the trunk / abdomen of the human body:

  • Digestive/Gastroenterological- liver, stomach, gall bladder, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine

 

  • Renal – kidney

 

  • Urologic- ureter, bladder, urethra, prostate

 

  • Gynecologic- uterus, ovaries, tubes

 

  • Vascular- aorta, major blood vessels supplying the organs

 

  • Neurologic- nerve- related

 

  • Orthopedic- spine, hips, etc.

 

2. There are several symptoms that could be attributable to numerous diseases and conditions.  Pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, feeling full, bloating, abdominal distension, and swelling are all symptoms that could be indicative of one of many gastroenterological issues.

3. There are various diseases that might affect a particular organ, and each organ could be affected by several GI disorders.

What Do These Facts Mean?

We have many diseases (hundreds or thousands) that can only express themselves through a few limited symptoms (multiple dozens, maybe a hundred at the most).  So if abdominal pain is the issue, for example, the possible culprits range from at least 10-20 causes, from about 3-6 organs (at a minimum).  It is THE JOB of a PHYSICIAN to whittle down the possible causes to just one.  Dr Google is not able to get the same end result.

It is the primary goal of your doctor, paired with some testing, years of medical knowledge, and experience treating countless cases like yours, to get to the end result of a diagnosis so that treatment can begin. 

Over-Reaction in Self-Diagnosis

So, how do you know? Often, we assume the worst case scenario before we even visit our doctor, thanks to Google.   As soon as you search for “abdominal pain,” the result is pancreatic cancer in the search results.  BAM ! THAT’S WHAT YOU HAVE!

Some people actually do come across their conditions via self- diagnosis, but most patients are equally worried, confused, and anxious about ALL THE WRONG THINGS.  Any simple pain, especially if temporary and not severe, may not be of serious concern.  Legitimate issues of concern have a way of surfacing, sooner or later. If you have a serious condition, you cannot ignore it, not for long at least. If you have serious symptoms, they need to be evaluated, or in the very least discussed with a health care provider.  Don’t make assumptions, because outcomes vary wildly.

Schedule a Talk With Your Doctor

appointment_for_stomach_pain_in_Baton_RougeOccasionally after long discussions about pain and symptoms or how irritable bowel syndrome or constipation may be causing their symptoms, patients will ask, “So, it’s not cancer?”  If your doctor knows what your concern is, they can directly speak to that point.  Many physicians find that the most difficult part of dealing with patients problems is that they are fearful to come out with their REAL concerns.

Dr Reddy, one of the board certified gastroenterologists practicing at Gastroenterology Associates, says, “I have several patients ask me if their symptoms are from pancreatic cancer- that seems to be the king of all concerns. It doesn’t happen to everyone, and it is not something you screen for.  All you can do is eat healthy, exercise, see the doctor when needed, follow health care instructions, and stop self-diagnosing on the internet.”

The experience and knowledge of the team of doctors at Gastroenterology Associates cannot be matched by any other practice in the Capital Region.  Since 1977, they have been providing the most advanced procedures and treatment programs with the utmost care and accuracy.  If a set of problems or symptoms has been causing concern, don’t wait until it gets worse or attempt to mask the issue, schedule an appointment with one of the best gastro doctors in Baton Rouge.  Click the link below or call the scheduling center at 225.927.1190.

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Gastroenterologists, Common Stomach Problems

How to Manage Health Records and Doctor Relationships

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 @ 3:11 PM

how_to_manage_health_recordsHow to Manage Health Records and Doctor Relationships –

A Doctor’s Perspective

Your doctor, especially a primary care doctor, or the first specialist you see for a problem, has been with you during the entire course of a problem (during flare- ups, etc), and he /she has reviewed you from the starting point of symptoms.  If you are not happy with your doctor for one reason or the other or have continuing problems (as some of these patients do), please think twice before you switch doctors. They have done the most important or essential testing. If you must go to a different doctor, please take your records with you, the clinic notes, labs, xrays, procedure reports, etc.

Make this a rule if you are moving out of town or out of country, because it is not always easy to get these records from your previous doctor. It may cause unnecessary delay in your diagnosis or treatment. It may cause repetition of tests as well.

Even with a complete report in hand (especially in cases of inflammation of the colon), it is somewhat difficult for a physician to know the severity of the disease based on someone else’s description, often depending on how detailed their report is. Physician techniques for reporting and sample taking from are likely going to vary. So, sometimes tests may need to be repeated, but first-hand information of a physician's own testing and reporting has its own merits.  Similarly, when seeing someone for a second opinion, the doctor is giving an opinion of another doctor’s evaluation.

The same rule applies to hospital visits. This is more important for those patients who have several complicated medical problems that require frequent hospitalizations. Try not to go to a different hospital every time, although there may be certain situations (emergencies) when you go to the nearest hospital. Physicians appreciate having all of a patient’s records at one hospital.

Several points to consider when seeking hospital treatment are:

1. It takes time and effort to obtain records from another institution, and these attempts are not always successful. Your doctor might not always get all the information needed, depending on how thorough the medical records clerk on the other side is.

2. It delays treatment and may cause repetition of tests if multiple hospitals must be contacted for records.

3. It is best to call your doctor’s office first to see if they have some advice for you that may prevent you from going to the hospital. This does not apply in an emergency.

4. Find out which hospital your doctor works with. They may only have privileges to some hospitals.

5. Always go to one hospital, as they will have the records of your previous testing and what happened in the last hospitalization which is important information for your care.

6. When you are ready to be discharged, ask your attending physician to send a copy of the discharge summary to all the doctors involved in your care – your primary care doctor, your cardiologist or gastroenterologist, depending on the current problem.

7. Always take your discharge papers to any doctors seen afterwards for continued treatment of the problem - while it is not everything, it will at least give that doctor a list of medications you were sent home on.  It is the patient’s responsibility to follow-up after discharge, to continue care, and to prevent it from happening again.

8. Always keep an accurate and updated list of medications with dosages with you – useful when you see a doctor or go to a hospital. It is best if it’s typed and has names of medications (brand name/ generic). Complete the list with your pharmacy and emergency contact information, and keep it in your wallet.

9. There are apps available for medical maintenance, but some patients prefer bringing a typed list of:

  • medical problems – caring physicians for each problem
  • medications
  • allergies
  • procedures done -surgeries, colonoscopies, etc.
  • family history

It is not uncommon to overreact when reviewing your own actual reports – lab, xray etc. Reading the fine print, then micro-analyzing every minute detail, can lead some patients to attempt to self-diagnose and/or panic over the unknowns. This happens at times, and it is for these reasons that we advise against trying to read and interpret your own records. 

Patients should, instead, ask the doctor that ordered the test to discuss results, any concerning findings, and the follow-up exams, if needed.  Patients should trust that doctor to stress the important facts and ignore the incidental findings.

The most important component of medical care is the communication that you have between yourself and your doctor.  If you are unhappy with treatment, tell them so, but attempt to resolve issues first before choosing to shop around for another doctor.  Not only will this effort improve your relationship with your doctor, it will prevent your medical records from being sprinkled all over your hometown’s doctors offices.

Gastroenterology Associates has been the Capital Region's larest gastroenterology practice since 1977, providing patiens with the most advanced procedures, utilizing our state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.  Our 17 expert, board-certified physicians provide the most comprehensive digestive care available with total focus on superior, compassionate patient care.  Please contact us today if you are looking for the best digestive health and care in Baton Rouge.

Why should I visit a gastroenterologist

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Gastroenterologists

Schedule Your 2014 Health Appointments Now!

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 3:42 PM

scheduling_health_appointmentsAs the end of the year approaches, it is the ideal time to make health care appointments, either for your annual wellness physical or for treatments and services for which a deductible must be met. November and December are often the months of the year when patients and families finally meet their health insurance deductibles.  However, these two months are often the busiest with holidays, family, and travel absorbing a bulk everyone’s free time.  So, Gastroenterology Associates encourages everyone to try to get in to their health related appointments sooner rather than later. Now is an excellent time to make your gastroenterology appointments for colonoscopy, upper endoscopy for reflux, or other elective procedures.

Things to Do Once Your Deductible is Met

Virtually all health insurance plans have an annual deductible which must be paid out by the patient or family before full health insurance benefits activate.  Most insurance plans roll over in January, and the deductible “banks” reverts back to $0.  For this reason, many people seek to have more expensive, elective procedures done once the deductible has been met.

As people receive necessary medical care throughout the year, most or all of the deductible is usually met by October or November. As a result, November and December are an excellent time to get routine appointments out of the way. Appointment availability is typically best during November, because doctors travel and visit family in the month of December as well, reducing the number of available appointments.

Medical issues which could be serious or may become worse over time should not be put off for any reason and medical care should be sought regardless of having met a deductible or not. The risks and costs of putting off any necessary treatments far outweigh the savings and will likely multiply with lack of treatment.  Ignoring new symptoms can significantly impact the ability of any health care professional to care for and treat the condition casing the ailment.

However, elective procedures for problems which are not immediately pressing can be pushed to the end of the year when deductibles are met and payment for these procedures are a bit easier. Many people wait until their deductible is met to schedule several elective procedures, like:

  • Diagnostic colonoscopy
  • Upper endoscopy for reflux
  • Mammogram
  • Annual skin cancer evaluation
  • Annual physical, bloodwork, and EKG
  • Physical Therapy
  • Allergy Testing

Screening vs. Diagnostic Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is one of the most important preventative and diagnostic procedures for detecting and treating colon cancer and other gastrointestinal conditions and diseases.  Not all colonoscopies are the same, however, in purpose, and they are billed accordingly. When it comes to costs, it is helpful to understand the distinction between diagnostic and screening colonoscopy.

A screening colonoscopy is considered preventative wherein the patient undergoes the colonoscopy in the absence of indicative signs or problematic symptoms (of which there are usually few with colon cancer).  The purpose of the screening colonoscopy is to test for colorectal cancer or polyps. The intent of the screening colonoscopy is not changed if polyps or colorectal cancer is found, and it will still be billed as a screening colonoscopy.  After the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare and many health insurance companies are required to cover preventative, scheduled screenings without a co-pay or deductible. 

Diagnostic colonoscopy is any colonoscopy done for the purpose of diagnosing specific signs or symptoms or for further exploration of an abnormal finding. Several of the reasons a patient might be referred for a diagnostic colonoscopy include:

  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Blood in the Stool
  • Iron Deficency Anemia with unknown cause
  • Bowel habit Changes
  • On-going and Persistant Abdominal Pain
  • Other Reasons

Biopsies may be taken or polyps are removed during this procedure and the resulting lab work is also considered diagnostic. Diagnostic colonoscopies costs aren’t waived by Medicare or third-party payors like screening tests are, and if a patient’s deductible is met, a screening colonoscopy is much more affordable.

To schedule your consultation, colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, or any other gastroenterological treatment, please contact the largest, most experienced group of gastroenterologists in Baton Rouge - Gastroenterology Associates - by clicking below and entering your information or calling (225) 927-1190.  So, schedule your 2014 health appointments now!

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Colonoscopy, Gastroenterologists, Endoscopic Procedures