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Pancreas, Biliary Diseases and Therapeutic Endoscopy Program

The pancreas and biliary tract are critical to digestion and nutrition in general. The AHN Center for Digestive Health’s Pancreas, Biliary Diseases and Advanced Endoscopy Program is devoted to diagnosing and treating pancreatic and biliary disorders, including:

Jaundice is when your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow because there is too much a certain chemical in your blood called bilirubin. Jaundice has various causes, including gallstones, a liver problem, hepatitis or pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer has become much more treatable in even just the last few years. Many new therapies are emerging with the potential to dramatically improve cure rates.

Pancreatic cysts can be benign, premalignant, or malignant. Using EUS and fine needle aspiration, the cysts can be risk stratified using the latest fluid analysis techniques. Subsequently, informed decisions can be made about the optimal treatment of these cysts.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas from the pancreatic enzymes attacking the pancreas instead of helping to digest food. The condition can either be acute (come on suddenly and severely) or chronic (ongoing).

Gallstones are like tiny rocks that form in your gallbladder, made up of cholesterol or bile particles that clump into a solid mass. Most gallstones are small enough that they will pass out of your body – through your intestines – without you noticing. But some can get lodged in the bile duct or can obstruct the gallbladder’s outlet, creating symptoms of pain, nausea and even jaundice.

Through our Therapeutic Endoscopy Program we are able to provide you with an exceptional level of care and the best possible outcome. Our highly experienced specialists use the most advanced technology and equipment to quickly and accurately diagnose your condition and develop a specialized treatment plan specific to your needs.

At our comprehensive treatment center, we perform many gastrointestinal procedures using an endoscope – a thin, flexible tube equipped with an optical system and a guiding light. An endoscope allows physicians to see your gastrointestinal tract and also perform treatment procedures in a minimally invasive fashion.

You can benefit from a host of advanced therapeutic endoscopy procedures offered at the Allegheny Health Network, including:

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) utilizes sound waves to provide high-resolution images of the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. An EUS probe can show the pancreas in much greater detail than any other non-surgical diagnostic test. It can detect gallstones, early fibrotic changes in the pancreas, as well as tumors of the pancreas and bile duct and metastatic liver cancer. It also provides detailed imaging of the gastrointestinal tract, which helps us to stage cancers of the esophagus, stomach and rectum.

Biopsy collection can be part of an endoscopic procedure. Biopsies are very small pieces of tissue that are removed and inspected under a microscope by a specially trained pathologist. These biopsies enable tissue grading and are used to detect Barrett’s esophagus, dysplasia, and cancer.

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) helps to diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas, These include and vary from evaluating the causes of jaundice to removing blocks in the gallbladder and bile ducts through diagnosing pancreatic tumors. A specialized endoscope is passed through your mouth or through a small incision. Physicians can make a diagnosis, treat gallstones, place a stent or obtain a tissue or fluid sample. ERCP is another useful tool in helping us to diagnose pancreatic cancer and bile duct cancer.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is used to treat Barrett’s esophagus and precancerous tissue, including early esophageal cancer. Performed on an outpatient basis, RFA involves an electrode mounted on an endoscope to deliver heat energy directly to the diseased lining of the esophagus to destroy it. In about six to eight weeks, new tissue grows to replace the lining that was removed. With this method, physicians are able to destroy abnormal tissue using radiofrequency waves in a relatively painless fashion. It has been shown to eliminate abnormal tissue in more than 98 percent of individuals and can reduce the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) is an innovative, minimally-invasive surgical approach to treat achalasia in the same way as heller myotomy but without making any incisions in your skin. Physicians instead access your esophagus by inserting an endoscope into your mouth. By eliminating the need for external incisions, we are able to speed your healing process, limit or eliminate pain, and achieve a cosmetically positive result.

Other specialized procedures to treat pancreatic and biliary conditions:
Sphincter of Oddi manometry
Mechanical lithotripsy of large common bile duct stones
Endotherapy for chronic pancreatitis
Biliary/pancreatic sphincterotomy
Spyglass technologies
Edoscopic mucosal resection
Dilation of strictures
Biliary mesh stent insertion
Celiac plexus block for relief of pain from chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer

Pancreas, Biliary Diseases, and Therapeutic Endoscopy Program: 412.359.8900
Erie residents call: 814.454.1142