Memorial Expands Gastrointestinal Program

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has expanded its gastrointestinal (GI) services for residents of Niagara County by purchasing equipment that will allow for wireless testing and monitoring to evaluate esophageal function.

Esophageal manometry and 48-hour bravo pH probe monitoring are two new tests that Memorial will now be able to offer patients at its downtown Niagara Falls campus.

“When performed concurrently, these tests provide objective data regarding the physiologic function of the esophagus and gastroesophageal junction.  Patients with symptoms such as esophageal spasm, atypical chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and heartburn should be considered for physiologic testing with Bravo pH probe and esophageal manometry,” said Dr. Peter Muscarella II, gastrointestinal, bariatric, and general surgeon at Memorial.

Esophageal manometry is used to measure the function of the lower esophageal sphincter (valve that prevents reflux) and the muscles of the esophagus.

“As we learn more about the potential adverse effects of commonly used ‘heartburn’ medications, it is important that we find ways to quantify patients’ symptoms so that we can choose the safest and most durable treatments available,” said Dr. Mojdeh Kappus, Chief of Bariatrics and general surgeon at Memorial.

“Many patients suffer with severe acid reflux, blaming their own eating habits for their symptoms.  While food choices may play a role in occasional reflux, it typically does not account for persistent, chronic acid reflux.  You should be able to eat chicken wings and pizza without the pain.  We may be able to help,” said Dr. Kappus.

The second test that will now be offered is 48-hour bravo pH probe monitoring, which is used to assess whether acid is coming back into the esophagus from the stomach and eliminates the need for uncomfortable transnasal catheters that were required previously. When reflux occurs on a regular basis it can cause permanent damage to the esophagus.

“It is extremely important to accurately identify patients who have GERD in order to provide the appropriate treatment.  Many patients who are on acid reducing medications may have other disorders and these are best identified by physiologic testing. Untreated reflux can result in the development of precancerous changes such as Barrett’s esophagus. Timely diagnosis and appropriate intervention of GERD can potentially decrease the risk of death from esophageal cancer, which is notoriously difficult to cure,” said. Dr. Muscarella.

It is important to note that 40% of Americans are impacted by GERD and 26.5% of those will develop into Barrett’s Esophagus, a precursor to esophageal cancer, which once diagnosed, 82% of patients pass away within five years.

“Esophageal physiology testing is not currently widely available in the Niagara Falls area and referral to regional centers can be associated with considerable wait times and unnecessary delays in evaluation and treatment.  We are committed to providing high-quality testing in a reasonable period of time for the patients and providers in our community,” said Dr. Muscarella.

For more information on Memorial’s gastrointestinal services or to schedule a test, please call 716-278-4402 or email GIPhysiology@NFMMC.org<mailto:GIPhysiology@NFMMC.org>.

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