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In This Section Texas Health Kaufman
Medical Services

Digestive Health

Physicians on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman, representing a variety of specialties, work with other health care professionals to provide care and education for gastrointestinal disorders.

Digestive health physicians on the medical staff perform clinically and technologically advanced diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for digestive disorders associated with the esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, colon, rectum and anus.

In addition to diagnostic procedures, such as endoscopy and fluoroscopy, physicians on the medical staff routinely perform surgical procedures, including hemorrhoidectomy. Call 1-877-THR-WELL (1-877-847-9355) for more information.  

The Digestive SystemThe Digestive System
Digestion is the process in which food is broken down into nutrients used by the body. The digestive system is a complex series of organs connected by an elongated tube that extends from the mouth to the anus. The food we eat is processed by the digestive system and made usable by hundreds of millions of body cells.

  • The esophagus is a muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the throat to the stomach for digestion. Some of the conditions and diseases of the esophagus include GERD/reflux disease, cancer, as well as swallowing disorders and strictures.
  • The stomach is a hollow organ connected to the esophagus and the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) consisting of layers of muscle and nerves that begin breakdown of food. Some of the conditions and diseases of the stomach can include peptic ulcers (duodenal or gastric), cancer, polyps, and gastritis.
  • The liver is an organ located at the top of the abdomen on the right side, the liver stores nutrients, changing them from one form to another and releases them into the blood. Some of the conditions and diseases of the liver can include hepatitis, cancer, and cirrhosis.
  • The pancreas is a long, tapered gland which lies across and behind the stomach that produces secretions and digestive juices which break down fats, carbohydrates, proteins and acids. Some of the conditions and diseases of the pancreas can include pancreatitis and cancer.
  • The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac situated just below the liver to store bile and release it when food passes from the stomach to the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) to help in the process of digestion. Some of the conditions and diseases of the gallbladder can include gallstones, cholecystitis, and cancer.
  • The intestines consist of the small bowel and the large bowel (colon). Some of the conditions and diseases of the intestines can include appendicitis, cancer, celiac disease, Crohn's and colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, polyps, short bowel syndrome, and strictures.
  • The rectum and anus are located at the end of the large intestine that stores feces and pushes it out of the body. Some of the conditions and diseases of the rectum and anus can include cancer, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolaps, and fecal incontinence.

Procedures and GI Information

Colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is a screening test for colon cancer. A colonoscope is a long, slender, flexible, hollow, lighted tube about the thickness of a finger. It is inserted through the rectum up into the colon and allows the physician to see the lining of the entire colon. The colonoscope is also connected to a video camera and video display monitor so the physician can closely examine the inside of the colon.

If a small polyp is found, the physician may remove it. Polyps, even those that are not cancerous, can eventually become cancerous. For this reason, they are usually removed. This is done by passing a wire loop through the colonoscope to cut the polyp from the wall of the colon with an electrical current. The polyp can then be sent to a lab to be checked under a microscope to see if it has any areas that have changed into cancer.

If the physician sees a large polyp, tumor or anything else abnormal, a biopsy may be done. In this procedure, a small piece of tissue is taken out through the colonoscope. Examination of the tissue can help determine if it is a cancer, a benign (non-cancerous) growth, or a result of inflammation.

Colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that usually takes 15 to 30 minutes to perform, although it may take longer if polyp removal is involved.

Endoscopy
Endoscopy is any procedure that uses an endoscope, which is a thin, flexible, lighted tube with a small camera on the tip. The camera is connected to a video monitor that displays the images produced by the endoscope. In gastrointestinal endoscopy, the endoscope is inserted through the anus or mouth.

An endoscope allows a physician to look directly at the inside lining of the digestive tract and can be used for diagnosing, and in some cases treating, gastrointestinal diseases. Types of gastrointestinal endoscopy include colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) and endoscopic ultrasound.

What is bile?
Among its many functions, the liver makes bile, a liquid that helps with digestion. Some of the bile secreted by the liver is collected by the biliary system and passed directly to the small intestine. Extra bile is stored in the gallbladder until needed; then it passes to the small intestine through the common bile duct. Bile from the common bile duct flows into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine) through the same opening as digestive enzymes from the pancreas, which are carried by the pancreatic duct.

Evaluating Ducts, Pancreas
For an ERCP procedure, a special thin, flexible tube, called an endoscope, is inserted through the mouth into the small intestine. A dye is injected into the bile ducts and pancreas through the endoscope. X-rays are then taken for evaluating the ducts and pancreas.

Special instruments can be placed through the endoscope into the ducts to open the entry of the ducts into the bowel, stretch out narrow segments, remove or relieve an obstruction and take tissue samples.

Helping with Digestion
The pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach, makes fluids that aid digestion. Endocrine cells in the pancreas produce insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Another part of the organ makes enzymes that help digest fats and proteins. These digestive enzymes are carried by the pancreatic duct and emptied into the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

Among its many functions, the liver makes bile, a liquid that helps with digestion. Some of the bile secreted by the liver is collected by the biliary system and passed directly to the small intestine. Extra bile is stored in the gallbladder until needed; then it passes to the small intestine through the common bile duct. Bile from the common bile duct flows into the duodenum through the same opening as the digestive enzymes from the pancreas.

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