Digestive issues can be very hard to diagnose. Stomach and intestinal pain can be the initial symptoms of a variety of diseases, some of which are negligible and some of which can be life-altering. Getting a proper and accurate diagnosis can be the difference between an amazing quality of life and a life spent with debilitating pain. Today’s patients can depend on the following four types of medical procedures to help their doctors determine what is going on in their digestive systems.
Doctors often start with lab work because it comes with the fewest side effects. Doctors may order blood work to determine underlying imbalances. Stool cultures can show if levels of bacteria are off in the digestive tract or if there is bleeding.
There are numerous types of radiologic imaging that can be performed to see if there are tumors or other defects in the intestinal tract or if the organs are not functioning well. Someone who has earned a radiology bachelor degree will be able to perform basic x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs as well as barium studies, swallow studies and ultrasounds. The benefits of carrying a four-year degree instead of a two-year degree are numerous, including the ability to perform more advanced studies and recognize more abnormalities on the images.
Endoscopies allow the doctor to see exactly what is going on in the digestive tract with a camera. He or she will be able to see if there are abnormalities or growths in the tract or if there are any ulcers or areas of bleeding. A colonoscopy looks at the large intestine while an upper endoscopy looks at the esophagus, stomach and upper part of the small intestine. While these are the most common endoscopies, other types allow doctors to see the rest of the large intestine and to determine how well the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are working.
Manometry uses physical manipulation to determine problems throughout the digestive tract. By applying pressure to the esophagus, anus, or rectum, doctors can diagnose malformations that can lead to diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, and bad digestion.
While digestive problems can be notoriously difficult to diagnose, today’s technology can successfully see within the body to determine what problems there may be in the stomach, intestines or other related organs. When doctors can determine exactly what is wrong, patients can find greater relief with drugs and therapies that are targeted to their exact diagnoses.