American Family Children's Hospital

Updates in Technology Improve Digestive Health Care

Bursts of heat-energy, cameras the size of a pill and specialized instruments that illuminate the darkest corners of the gut are all part of the toolkit that UW Health gastroenterologists use to manage complex and chronic disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, liver and bile ducts. Seven members of the UW Health advanced endoscopy team combine their training and experience with the most sophisticated technology to diagnose and treat thousands of patients each year.


Recent advances in small bowel imaging have revolutionized the diagnosis and evaluation of many digestive diseases such as obscure gastrointestinal bleeding, diagnosing Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and small bowel tumors.


With capsule endoscopy, patients swallow a pill-sized camera that captures thousands of digestive tract images, allowing physicians to visualize the entire small bowel in real-time. Double balloon enteroscopy (DBE) uses an inflatable balloon to improve visibility and access to lesions in the distal small intestine identified by capsule endoscopy.


Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) combines endoscopy and X-ray imaging to diagnose and treat benign and malignant biliary and pancreatic disease by visualizing bile and pancreatic ducts. ERCP is used by experts for:

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  • Stone removal from the biliary or pancreatic ducts
  • Dilation of the biliary or pancreatic ducts
  • Duct stent placement
  • Choledochoscopy
  • Lithotripsy
  • Sphincter of oddi manometry

Endoscopic ultrasound helps provide earlier diagnosis of malignant tumors of the pancreas, intestines and lymph nodes adjacent to the gastrointestinal tract, avoiding surgeries in some patients. It allows UW Health gastroenterologists to:

  • Examine the lining of the intestinal tract
  • Evaluate pancreas mass lesions, chronic pancreatitis and bile duct abnormalities
  • Sample fluid or cells from lesions, such as enlarged lymph nodes deep inside the abdomen
  • Drain fluid from cysts in the pancreas or liver
  • Drain large symptomatic pancreas pseudocysts (when combined with ERCP)
  • Inject pain relieving medicines directly into the nerves of the celiac plexus, providing sustained pain relief to patients with advanced inflammation or cancer of the pancreas

A new treatment option for patients with Barrett’s esophagus called HALO radiofrequency ablation (RFA) provides bursts of heat-energy in a very precise and controlled manner. This procedure removes pre-cancerous cells from the esophagus without damaging the lining or underlying structures.


The UW Health gastroenterologists who form the advanced procedures team are national leaders. The UW Hospital and Clinics Ambulatory GI endoscopy program has received the highest recognition by the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). The ASGE Endoscopy Unit Recognition program honors endoscopy units that follow the ASGE guidelines on privileging, quality assurance, endoscope reprocessing and CDC infection control guidelines; and have completed specialized training of principles in quality and safety in endoscopy.