The digestive system has an important job. Several organs work together to break down food, absorb nutrients and get rid of solid waste. They include the:

  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas
  • Liver
  • Gallbladder
  • Small intestine
  • Colon and rectum (large intestine)
  • Anus
If any part of your digestive system is affected by illness, injury or lifestyle, you may have painful, disruptive or embarrassing symptoms. These symptoms can take a toll on your quality of life and, in some cases, may be signs of serious or even life-threatening conditions like gastrointestinal cancers.

Fortunately, our gastroenterology care team can help. They have experience diagnosing and treating even the most challenging digestive disorders. Their areas of expertise include:

Colorectal conditions

  • Anal cancer—a rare type of cancer that grows in the anal canal. 
  • Chronic constipation—having fewer than three bowel movements per week over a long period of time, or difficulty passing stool.
  • Colon cancer—also known as colorectal cancer, this type of cancer begins in the colon and is one of the leading causes of cancer death among men and women. 
  • Colon polyps—small clumps of cells that grow inside the colon or rectum, and may be benign (non-cancerous) or cancerous.
  • Diarrhea—frequent and watery bowel movements. 
  • Diverticulitis—a painful condition caused by inflamed, bulging sacs that grow on the lining of the small intestine.
  • Fecal incontinence—loss of bowel control that can range from occasional stool leakage to a complete inability to control bowel movements.
  • Hemorrhoids—swollen veins inside the anus or lower rectum that can cause rectal bleeding, itching or pain during bowel movements.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) —a condition that causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Some people can manage IBS symptoms with dietary and lifestyle changes.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) [Link to IBD Clinic tab] —a group of complex medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, that cause chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. IBD can cause serious complications and increases the risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Rectal cancer—a slow-growing type of cancer that develops in the rectum.

Esophagus disorders

  • Achalasia—a weak muscle at the bottom of the esophagus makes it hard for food or liquids to pass into the stomach.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) —also known as acid reflux, this condition occurs when stomach acids flow backward, up into the esophagus. Symptoms include heartburn, chest pain or an acidic taste in the mouth. 
  • Barrett’s esophagus—in people with long-term GERD, stomach acids gradually erode the esophagus wall and cause tissue changes that may lead to cancer. 
  • Eosinophilic gastroenteritis—a rare condition in people with high levels of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell), that causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea. 
  • Esophageal cancer—a type of cancer that grows in the esophagus.

Gallbladder conditions

  • Cholangitis—an infection in the common bile duct, a tube that carries bile (a digestive fluid) from the liver to the gallbladder.
  • Cholecystitis—inflammation in the gallbladder that can develop suddenly or cause repeated attacks over a long period of time.
  • Gallbladder cancer—a rare kind of cancer that begins in the gallbladder and is often not diagnosed until an advanced stage.
  • Gallstones—hard, stone-like lumps that form inside the gallbladder or the ducts (tubes) that carry fluids in and out of the gallbladder. If gallstones grow large enough, they can block these ducts. 

Liver Disease

  • Cirrhosis—scarring in the liver that prevents the liver from working properly.
  • Hepatitis—liver inflammation caused by a viral infection, autoimmune disorder or drug or alcohol use. The most common types of hepatitis, known as hepatitis A, B and C, can be passed from person to person.
  • Liver cancer—a kind of cancer that starts in the liver. The most common type is hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC.
  • Liver failure—also known as end stage liver disease, liver failure occurs when the liver stops functioning properly. For patients with complete liver failure, the only treatment option is a liver transplant.

Pancreas disorders

  • Acute pancreatitis—sudden inflammation of the pancreas, often caused by gallstones or alcohol abuse.
  • Chronic pancreatitis—long-term inflammation that permanently damages the pancreas and increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. 
  • Pancreatic cancer—a type of cancer that begins in the pancreas, and often doesn’t cause symptoms until it’s reached an advanced stage.
  • Pancreatic cysts—fluid-filled sacs that grow on or in the pancreas, which may be benign (non-cancerous) or cancerous.

Stomach disorders

  • Gastritis—a group of conditions that cause inflammation of the stomach lining.
  • Gastroparesis—the stomach takes too long to empty food, due to damaged nerves or weak muscles.  
  • Stomach cancer—a type of cancer that starts in the stomach, usually in the cells that line the stomach wall.
  • Stomach polyps—also known as gastric polyps, these clusters of cells grow on the lining of the stomach. Certain types of polyps can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Learn more about the medical and surgical gastroenterology treatments we offer at The Christ Hospital Health Network.