Gut Instinct: Specialists have High-Tech Tools

If you have ever undergone a colonoscopy, fought heartburn, or suffered from an ulcer, you’ve likely been introduced to gastroenterology — the study of the function and diseases of the digestive system.

ABOVE: The team of experts at NorthBay Gastroenterology includes (seated, left to right) Michael Krier, M.D.; Nazia Hasan, M.D.; Mounzer Al Samman, M.D.; and (standing) Farhat Surti, N.P. Joining the team this month (not pictured) is Suk Charles Whang, M.D.
At NorthBay Healthcare, a team of four physicians and one nurse practitioner work together to care for patients with a broad range of gastrointestinal issues.

Some of the most common disorders include acid reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, hepatitis C, and chronic constipation. Gastroenterologists are also called to treat conditions such as colon polyps and cancer, peptic ulcer disease, colitis, gallbladder and biliary tract disease, nutritional problems and pancreatitis.

Advances in medicine and technology are improving options in the diagnosis and treatment of gastroenterological issues.

For example, NorthBay offers an advanced procedure for those with Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition in which the flat pink lining of the swallowing tube that connects the mouth to the stomach (esophagus) becomes damaged by acid reflux, which causes the lining to thicken and become red.

“Barrett’s is a complication of a common problem, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can lead to cancer,” explained Nazia Hasan, M.D., an interventional gastroenterologist. “However, we have an effective, minimally invasive procedure we can use to treat this problem which is called radiofrequency ablation (which removes diseased cells from the esophagus). NorthBay is proud to feature this service as we are one of only about 10 centers in the Bay Area that have this capability.”

Technology is also helping with assessment of patient’s intestinal track. For example, for several years now, NorthBay gastroenterologist Mounzer Al Samman, M.D., has offered his patients the GI Pill Cam. The Pill Cam is a small capsule that patients simply swallow. A tiny camera in the capsule transmits thousands of images of the small intestine as it passes through. An advantage of the GI Pill Cam is that the procedure does not require the patient to be sedated and they can perform their regular activities while it is working. Any gastrointestinal condition identified is treated separately.

Other conditions NorthBay Gastroenterology treats include, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A common disorder that affects the large intestine; hemorrhoids; colitis, a chronic digestive disease characterized by inflammation of the inner lining of the colon, which can cause long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract; gallbladder and biliary tract disease; gluten intolerance; hepatitis; pancreatitis; peptic ulcer disease and tumors.


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