Gastroenterology Specialties

Treating Digestive Conditions

Gastroenterologists treat people with problems in their digestive system. Their work focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of digestive diseases. This includes conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and bile ducts.

If you have one of these conditions, you know how uncomfortable it can be. In some cases, it can seem like your life is on hold as you try to find answers.

At Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, we know how difficult digestive illnesses can be. You’ll find specialists here who understand your condition and offer relief. Our gastroenterology team provides complete care for gastrointestinal illnesses ranging from simple to complex. They combine their skills and expertise to give you an accurate diagnosis and the right treatments for your condition. And they consider your own personal goals and preferences at each step of your care.

We treat each patient as an individual and we get people back to living their lives. At Lahey, you are always the most important person on your care team.

Our Gastroenterology Specialty Areas

Gastroesophageal Disease

Heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers—these conditions can keep you up at night and uncomfortable during the day. Left untreated, they can lead to more serious problems.

We help heal these conditions and get you back to enjoying meals and your life. Every person with gastroesophageal disease is different, and our team considers your individual situation when we plan your care. Count on us for the most advanced testing and treatments with the best possible results.

Upper Endoscopy

Endoscopy uses a flexible tube called an endoscope to examine your digestive tract. We provide a full range of endoscopic procedures to diagnose and treat conditions such as:

  • Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Ulcers
  • Barrett's esophagus
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Esophageal cancer

Our Endoscopy Center offers endoscopy, ablation treatments and other state-of-the-art procedures.

Esophageal Motility Center

Motility is the movement of food through the esophagus. When the muscles weaken or don’t work properly, it can feel like food is stuck in your throat. Problems with motility can also cause heartburn or GERD.

At our Esophageal Motility Center, we diagnose motility issues with advanced tests such as:

  • Ambulatory esophageal pH study. This test uses a thin tube called a catheter inserted into your esophagus (a tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach). It remains in place for 24 hours as you go about your day. You’ll record your symptoms and what you eat, which can show a link to acid reflux. At Lahey, we also use a small device called a Bravo capsule for this test. It measures how often stomach acid enters the esophagus and sends information wirelessly to a recorder at your waist.
  • Esophageal impedance study. With this study, your provider places a thin catheter in your esophagus and attaches it to a recording device at your waist. As you go about your regular daily activities over the next 24 hours, this test measures liquid or gas reflux in your esophagus.
  • High-resolution esophageal manometry. This uses a thin catheter to measure the pressure in your esophagus as you swallow.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Regaining Control of Your Life

Inflammatory bowel diseases can interfere with your life. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause you to miss work, skip social events and generally lower your quality of life. For some people with these conditions, their symptoms get so severe that they need to be hospitalized.

We want to help you get your life back. The specialists at our Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center will talk with you about your symptoms and your goals. We may recommend testing, such as a colonoscopy, to determine how severe your condition is. Then we’ll design a treatment plan that fits your needs, your preferences and your life.

Comprehensive Care

Today’s treatments for inflammatory bowel disease have led to dramatic improvements for people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Our specialists combine their skills to determine the most effective therapies for each patient.

Your care team may recommend one or more of these approaches to care:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines. The first step in treating inflammatory bowel disease is often the use of an anti-inflammatory medicine. Your provider may recommend drugs such as corticosteroids or aminosalicylates.
  • Biologics. These medicines have proved highly effective in controlling both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They work by suppressing your immune system to reduce inflammation. Lahey Hospital & Medical Center was among the first in the U.S. to use these medicines, and we have developed a deep understanding of how to use them for the best result.
  • Nutritional support. Our multidisciplinary team of nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and others work together to help you get the nutrition you need to stay as healthy as possible. This can include advice about a low-residue diet to avoid blockages or a special diet that you take through a feeding tube to rest your bowel. Nutrients can also be injected into a vein.
  • Other medicines. In addition to treating your inflammation, you may also take medicines such as pain relievers, anti-diarrheal medicines and antibiotics. Your provider may also recommend iron, calcium and vitamin D supplements.
  • Radiology. Imaging tests help your provider pinpoint the location and extent of your inflammatory bowel disease. These tests can also show how you are responding to treatment.
  • Surgery. If your quality of life continues to suffer, even with medications, surgery may be your next option. Your team at Lahey will determine the appropriate procedure for your specific condition and symptoms. Surgery for inflammatory bowel disease often involves removing the damaged part of your digestive tract. In some cases, it can be done with minimally invasive techniques.
Ongoing Support

Inflammatory bowel disease is a lifelong condition. We’re with you for the long haul with support such as:

  • Counseling and therapy. Living with inflammatory bowel disease can be exhausting, and it’s easy to start feeling down. Our counselors help you find ways to stay positive and optimistic. An improved outlook can make a difference in your pain level, help you feel less tired and make you more likely to keep up with your medications. Mindfulness training can be especially helpful with inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Nursing support for stoma care. One type of surgery for inflammatory bowel disease involves diverting the large intestine to an opening surgeons create in the abdomen. This is called a colostomy and it can be temporary or permanent. The new intestinal opening is called a stoma and it requires specific care. Our stoma care nurses help you every step of the way. They manage the stoma care after surgery, coach you on caring for your stoma, help you get the right supplies and more. They also identify problems early and get you the help you need to heal.
  • Support Groups. Talking to people who have similar experiences as you can be helpful as you deal with inflammatory bowel disease. We can help you find a support group that fits with your personal issues and preferences.
Research for Better Care

Today there are many promising treatments and management techniques for patients who are living with inflammatory bowel disease. This means fewer people are hospitalized and far more lead fulfilling lives. That’s true in large part because of the newer, more effective medications.

Lahey is at the forefront of this trend. We continue to take part in many clinical trials of new therapies for inflammatory bowel disease. This gives our patients the opportunity to try leading-edge medications that aren’t available elsewhere.

Liver Center
Comprehensive Care for Liver Disease

Liver disease can happen to anyone. There are dozens of conditions that affect the liver, and many of them can lead to complete liver failure, a life-threatening condition that needs urgent medical care. Sometimes people don’t know they have a liver problem until it becomes serious.

Today, though, the outlook for people with liver disease is much brighter. Advanced treatments help many people live longer, feel better and in some cases recover completely. And Lahey Hospital & Medical Center is at the forefront of this care.

Our team treats the full range of liver conditions—from abnormal liver function tests with no symptoms to liver failure to liver transplantation and more. In fact, we do more liver transplants than any health care center in New England.

We combine our skills and expertise to give each patient the personalized care they need. Our coordinated team approach to treating liver disease leads to healing, recovery and the chance to live a full life.

Diagnosing Liver Disease
Gastrointestinal specialists at Lahey will choose the right combination of tests to get an accurate diagnosis. Your care team may use one or more of these tests to get an accurate diagnosis:
  • Blood tests. A blood sample shows your levels of certain enzymes and proteins that indicate how well your liver is functioning. These tests may be part of a regular checkup or done to help diagnose a problem if you have symptoms.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. ERCP is done in our Advanced Endoscopy Center. It’s used to diagnose problems of the bile ducts, which carry bile from your liver to your gallbladder.
  • Imaging. Tests such as CT, ultrasound and MRI can help your provider pinpoint your liver condition. We also use an advanced test called MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography). This special type of MRI makes detailed images of the biliary system, which includes bile ducts inside and outside the liver.
  • Liver biopsy. If your blood test or symptoms show that your liver may not be functioning properly, your team may recommend a biopsy. During a liver biopsy, a provider takes a small sample of liver tissue to be analyzed.
Cutting Edge Treatments

Whether your liver condition is common or complex, your team at Lahey has the skills and tools to give successfully treat your condition. Depending on your specific diagnosis, your team may recommend medications, surgery or both. Lifestyle changes, such as not drinking alcohol or losing weight, can also make a difference.

Our patients also benefit from our clinical trials. Researchers at Lahey are looking for new and better treatments for conditions such as chronic hepatitis, liver failure, complications of cirrhosis, portal hypertension and liver transplantation. Our patients have access to advanced therapies for these and other conditions that aren’t available elsewhere.

Liver Transplantation

If your liver disease progresses to liver failure, our liver transplant program can help. Our extensive experience in this area includes a number of firsts—we did both the first successful liver transplant and the first live adult-donor liver transplant in New England. Our live adult donor liver transplant program is the largest in the U.S.

These accomplishments give us a deep understanding of how to care for transplant patients. Our team includes surgeons, liver specialists, nurses, nutritionists, social workers and others who all specialize in liver transplantation and care for you with respect and compassion.

Ongoing Care & Support

Your care doesn’t end when you leave our hospital. We help with a successful transition to home with follow-up care and support. Depending on your liver condition, we monitor your recovery and make recommendations so you continue healing.

For our transplant patients, we help with managing the medications they take after their surgery. We connect you with support groups where you can share your experiences. You can count on us to be with you every step of the way and to keep you and your family at the center of your care.