We file with the following insurance plans:
Wake Endoscopy Center does see many individuals who are not in the above plans. If you do not have one of the following plans it may be necessary to provide payment for your services and let us give you the necessary forms you will need to file your insurance for reimbursement.
Learn more about gastroenterology and gastroenterologists by reading through the FAQs below. If you have more specific questions about what Wake Endoscopy Center can do for you, please contact us to talk to a team member.
A gastroenterologist is a doctor who has had extensive education and certification in diagnosing and treating conditions in the digestive system, also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The 13 physicians at Wake Endoscopy Center are all board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and specialize in different areas of digestive health.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract, or digestive system, is a series of organs that make up the passageway from the mouth to the anus. The organs of the GI tract are:
There are many conditions that may affect the GI system. The experts and Wake Endoscopy Center diagnose and treat patients with:
Gastroenterologists perform a number of tests to diagnose illnesses in the GI tract. The types of tests performed at Wake Endoscopy Center include:
If you are over 50 or at an elevated risk for colon cancer, you should see a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy or colon cancer screening.
You may also need to see a gastroenterologist if you are suffering from the symptoms of a GI disorder. Symptoms of GI conditions include:
Click to learn about our GI Conditions.
Celiac sprue, aka celiac disease or gluten sensitive enteropathy, is an inflammatory disease of the small intestine due to exposure to gluten in the diet.
Gluten is a component of dietary grains, notably wheat, rye, and barley. It is also commonly found in small quantities of prepared foods as an additive.
Although commonly diagnosed by gastroenterologists, celiac disease is a systemic disorder and can result in neurologic symptoms, skin rash, joint problems, and infertility. It is more commonly diagnosed due to the presence of weight loss, diarrhea, anemia, and/or vague abdominal pain.
It is common in the United States and Western countries. Prevalence can approach 5-15% in certain at risk populations, notably Caucasian females with a 1st degree family member with the disease. 0.5% to 1% of the population have positive blood tests for celiac sprue.
Simple blood tests termed celiac serologies can be suggestive of celiac sprue, and a small intestinal biopsy is confirmatory. Most require that both tests be positive in order to establish the diagnosis.
Patients with discordant serologies and biopsy results need to be followed over time and retested at a later date if symptoms persist. Both celiac blood tests and biopsies can be falsely “negative” or normal if testing is done while an individual is following a gluten-free diet.
All symptomatic patients with celiac sprue should adopt and follow a gluten free diet. Consultation with a registered dietician is invaluable in educating patients about gluten containing products, particularly additives in processed foods. Grocers are capitalizing on the gluten-free market and making it easier for consumers to follow a gluten free diet.
Cirrhosis occurs when the normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue which can cause liver dysfunction.
The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. It plays a vital role in regulating numerous processes in the body, including storage of nutrients, filtration of the bloodstream, digestion, and fighting off infection.
Cirrhosis is confirmed with liver biopsy. However, clinicians can commonly diagnose cirrhosis based on interpreting physical exam findings and lab and X-ray data after taking a detailed history.
Viral hepatitis, alcohol, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is a common misconception that cirrhosis equates to excessive alcohol usage.
Patients with cirrhosis are commonly free of symptoms and referred to as being in a “compensated” state of disease. “Decompensated” cirrhosis manifests in symptoms of a failing liver, notably fluid retention, gastrointestinal bleeding, or changes in personality or cognition. The latter is termed hepatic encephalopathy and ranges in severity from subtle word-finding problems to overt unresponsiveness.
In a few circumstances, cirrhosis can be reversed by treatment of the underlying disease. More commonly, cirrhosis is not reversible. Focus shifts to prevention and identification of complications of liver disease, notably gastrointestinal bleeding and liver cancer.
Any individual with “decompensated” cirrhosis of any severity should at least be considered for liver transplantation.
Liver cancer cannot be prevented. Any patient with cirrhosis, regardless of cause, is at increased risk for primary liver cancer. Similar to the role of mammography in the detection of breast cancer, various X-ray technologies can be used to screen for liver cancer. Liver cancer is treatable at an early stage and can often be used to increase an individual’s standing on a waitlist for liver transplantation.
Colon cancer screening should be offered to any individual at or around the age of 50. Some are screened earlier or more frequently due to family history or personal history of gastrointestinal disease.
No. While the image quality is improving, CT colonography exposes patients to radiation and offers no therapeutic benefit for polyp removal. Additionally, CT does not use any sedation and still requires a prep. Stool DNA testing is not widely available, and its utility has not been established. Colonoscopy remains the optimal strategy for colon cancer screening and prevention. It allows the entire colon to be seen and all visualized polyps removed. Because it is effective at colon cancer prevention, studies have confirmed that colonoscopy reduces both incidences of colon cancer and deaths from colon cancer.
Colonoscopy is not perfect. Significant polyps can be missed in 6-12% of colonoscopies, and the procedure can result in rare complications. Endoscopic technique and adequacy of bowel prep/cleansing remain focal points of any good colon cancer prevention/screening program.
Horror stories exist about colon preps for colonoscopy. Typically a patient will abstain from solids for 24 hours prior to the exam while taking in clear liquids. Traditional large volume purges can be difficult to tolerate due to volume and lack of palatability but still are well tolerated by many. Alternative options exist and can be discussed with a gastroenterology specialist.
Cessation of colon cancer screening has been recommended by various professional societies when the risk of colonoscopy exceeds its benefit in terms of colon cancer prevention. These are guidelines and can be adapted to individuals based on personal preference and clinical circumstances.
In the absence of colon polyps or a family history of early colon cancer, colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years until the age of 80. Typically, if an individual has a few polyps or a 1st degree relative with colon cancer before age 60, colonoscopy is done every 5 years.
20% of individuals report unpleasant symptoms after eating specific foods.
These are classified as either immune-mediated (true food allergy) or non-immunologic. The latter is more common and synonymous with food intolerance.
Cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, shellfish, and seafood.
Only 50% of individuals with food allergy have GI symptoms at exposure. The skin, respiratory tract, and cardiovascular system can also be involved, either in isolation or together with the GI tract.
Lactose. It results when an individual lacks specific small intestine enzymes which allow breakdown of lactose in dairy products. It is more common in those with African, Native American, or Mediterranean descent. Lactose intolerance can result in bloating, gas, and diarrhea on lactose exposure.
Sorbitol and fructose are commonly found in processed food and juices are fermented by bacteria in the colon and can cause identical symptoms when ingested in large quantities.
No. Some dairy products such as yogurt are low in lactose and should not cause symptoms in lactose intolerant individuals. Severe symptoms from these is more suggestive of irritable bowel syndrome.
Acid reflux (also known as heartburn), which is most commonly recognized as a burning sensation in the chest beneath the breastbone or the upper abdomen. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid splashes up in the esophagus: the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. GERD is an abbreviation for gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition that refers to damage to the lining of the lower esophagus GERD occurs as a result of frequent or prolonged exposure to stomach acid.
Everyone experiences mild heartburn from time to time. If the symptoms progress or keep occurring over a long period of time, however, you should consult your doctor
Acid Reflux is caused by the malfunction of a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This area of the esophagus is supposed to open to allow food and liquid to pass into the stomach and quickly clamp shut to keep stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
The lining of the stomach is protected from digestive acid, but the lining of the esophagus is not. So, when the LES does not close properly and acid flows back into the esophagus, its lining can become inflamed causing esophagitis, readily seen on upper endoscopy.
In general, if your symptoms are severe, frequent or getting worse, you need to be seen by a medical professional. Some indications that you may need an evaluation are:
A combination of lifestyle changes and medications is usually sufficient to control most individuals who suffer from GERD. Medications such as Ranitidine or Zantac may be used in milder cases and Omeprazole or Prilosec may be required for moderate to severe cases.
Complications occur when GERD is severe or long-standing. The constant irritation of the esophagus by stomach acid can lead to inflammation, ulcers, and bleeding. Over time, scarring and narrowing of the esophagus can also develop, making it difficult to swallow foods and even resulting in an obstruction. This narrowing is called a stricture. Some patients develop a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which is a precancerous condition.
Some patients with GERD may need surgery to strengthen the LES. This procedure is called fundoplication. This surgery is now usually done by laparoscopy. This is a newer type of minimally invasive surgery, performed with a tiny incision at the naval and a few needle points in the upper abdomen. The patient usually returns home 1-2 days after surgery, with few problems. Surgery, however, should not be considered until all medical treatments have been tried. Surgery is often seriously considered for an otherwise healthy patient when the disease is severe, or the patient wants to avoid the expense or regimen of long-term treatment with medications.
Although IBS can be thought of as one disorder, health professionals categorize IBS into three different conditions: Diarrhea Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-D), Constipation Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-C) and Alternating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-A). There are prescription medications that may be used for IBS-C and IBS-D, while IBS-A relies more on fiber and antispasmodics agents. Other disorders and diseases may masquerade as IBS and can be resolved, while IBS requires long term changes in lifestyle. You should consult your health care provider to determine which therapy is right for you.
Although the symptoms of IBS may at times be severe, the disorder itself is not a serious one. There is no actual disease present in the colon. In fact, an operation performed on the abdomen would reveal a perfectly normal appearing bowel.
The syndrome is considered a functional disorder. The condition usually begins in young people, usually below 40 and often in the teens. The symptoms may wax and wane, being particularly severe at some times and absent at others. Over the years, the symptoms tend to become less intense or lifestyle changes used as a coping mechanism minimize the problem.
Some investigators believe that IBS may occur after exposure to an intestinal virus. Others with IBS know that stress is a major contributor to the severity of IBS symptoms. Episodes of IBS may be triggered by preservatives or flavor enhancers such as MSG.
The colon, the last five feet of the intestine, serves to dehydrate and store the stool so that, normally, a well-formed soft stool occurs. The colon also quietly propels the stool from the right side over to the rectum, storing it there until it can be evacuated. This movement occurs by orderly contractions of the colon. With IBS the colon will contract in a disordered fashion leading to spasms that may be prolonged or severe. Some IBS patients may experience bloating or cramping while others may encounter abdominal distress which can be severe. It is not unusual to see mucous in the stool.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is known by an assortment of other terms: spastic colon, spastic colitis, mucous colitis and nervous or functional bowel. It is thought of as a disorder of the large intestine (colon), although other parts of the intestinal tract may also be involved.
NAFLD is a liver disease characterized by fat deposition in the liver. It has a spectrum of severity based on liver biopsy appearance and symptoms.
Yes. When using ultrasound alone for detection, its prevalence approaches 50% of primary care patients. Only a percentage of these go on to have progressive liver disease.
NAFLD commonly occurs in association with some or all of the components of the metabolic syndrome:
It is seen that diet and lifestyle choices over years play a contributing role to its development and evolution.
NASH is an acronym for Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis. It is the most severe form of NAFLD and is often progressive, resulting in cirrhosis and its complications. Its microscopic appearance is virtually indistinguishable from alcoholic liver disease, and differentiation requires a detailed history.
Body mass index (BMI), diabetes, level of liver enzymes, and Hispanic race.
No. Labs and ultrasound can usually determine if a patient has fatty liver disease. Liver biopsy can diagnose NASH, which is important, particularly in younger patients. Identifying NASH is important because it places patients in a higher risk subgroup and justifies a more aggressive treatment strategy.
Treatment primarily centers on lifestyle modifications, particularly related to caloric consumption and exercise/energy expenditure. High fructose corn syrup consumption and fast food intake have both been linked to NAFLD. A rigorous program of caloric restriction to 1500 kcal daily and 200 minutes of low impact exercise/week resulted in regression of NASH on liver biopsy.
No medications have been proven to universally work in NAFLD. Some studies suggest benefit of vitamin E, but this should only be used under the direction of a provider familiar with NAFLD.