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What is Gastroenterology?

A sub-specialty of internal medicine, gastroenterology focuses on the digestive system, from normal functioning to diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver. Issues related to gastroenterology can range from mild to severe—from occasional gas or stomach pain, to cancer of the colon or liver. Gastroenterologists possess a detailed understanding of how gastrointestinal organs move material through the stomach and intestines, and how well the body digests, absorbs nutrients, and removes waste.

How We Are Different

There are literally hundreds of twists and bends to the digestive tract. For an average adult male, the entire system is approximately 30-feet long, according to the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Our job begins by knowing every inch along the way. From there, we focus our collaborative care on a wide range of issues, including colon polyps, cancer, acid reflux (heartburn), peptic ulcers, colitis, nutritional problems, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and many more.

The Vancouver Clinic’s high-quality colonoscopy process consistently exceeds American College of Gastroenterology (AGC) and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) standards for Adenoma Detection Rates and withdrawal times. We take the time to make sure your exam is thorough and that you are treated with the highest quality of care.


Our Gastroenterology Department provides a full range of services, including:
  • Colonoscopy
  • Capsule Endoscopy
  • Upper Endoscopy (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy – EGD)
  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • EUS (endoscopic ultrasound)
  • EMR (endoscopic mucosal resection)
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Esophageal manometry
  • 24 pH/impedance testing
Does your department help people who have chronic heartburn?

Yes. Being able to control heartburn varies quite a bit among different people. If your heartburn is mild, or occurs only occasionally, then a series of lifestyle changes may be all you need to manage it. For example, if your heartburn happens only when you eat late at night, consider not eating within three hours of falling asleep. Or if heartburn happens only after you eat certain foods, you may want to avoid these foods, or at least cut back on them. If your heartburn is persistent, or if making small lifestyle changes doesn’t help, then we encourage you to see one of our specialists right away.

I’ve always heard that stress causes ulcers. Is this true?

There’s no single cause for ulcers. What we know is that an ulcer is the end result of an imbalance between the stomach’s digestive fluids and the duodenum, which neutralizes gastric juices. Some ulcers are the results of bacterial infections. While people link ulcers with stress, it may be that people under stress make certain lifestyle choices that contribute to ulcers. For instance, drinking alcohol in excess, smoking tobacco, or taking certain painkillers can all lead to excess stomach acid production, thereby contributing to an ulcer.

How do I know if I have an ulcer?

There are a number of signs to look for as far as ulcers are concerned. The three most common include shooting abdominal pain after meals, increased or chronic indigestion, and nausea.

What to Expect

First, expect to feel better. No condition is too mild, especially if you’re dealing with chronic, digestion related pain. Secondly, expect to get the answers and the care you need when facing serious or life-threatening issues that involve the digestive tract. The way our bodies process the food we eat is vital to our lives. We are here for you whether you have ongoing issues, questions, or are just looking for clarity around a symptom.