Digestive health

Keeping you feeling and functioning well

Digestive health services at UW Health diagnoses and treats the many health issues that can affect your digestive system.
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Programs and research

Advanced care at UW Health

Digestive disorders can have a big impact on your health and quality of life. Our specialty clinics and researchers work to address the unique needs and challenges you may face.

Specialty clinics

Learn about the wide range of digestive health care we provide.

Several medical conditions can cause trouble swallowing. Our clinic investigates the cause of swallowing difficulties and helps you find the best treatment.

Sometimes cancers of the colon, esophagus, pancreas and stomach have genetic links. Doctors and counselors in our GI Genetics Clinic help evaluate the risk for you and your family. They put together a plan to screen you for cancer so you can get early treatment if the disease develops.

Often GI problems develop or get worse during pregnancy. This specialty clinic offers care to women who are pregnant, have recently delivered, or are considering pregnancy. We tailor our services to protect the health of you and your baby.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They cause inflammation of your intestines. Our IBD Clinic focuses on helping you find an eating plan that helps control your symptoms.

There’s a lot involved in dealing with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Teens who’ve had help managing their health as children have much to learn about caring for themselves as they become adults. Our IBD Transition Clinic helps teenagers take charge of their IBD.

Clinical trialsImproving care through research
Through research and clinical trials, we learn more about digestive diseases and how to treat them best. What we learn allows us to offer innovative therapies. They can bring hope when you’re dealing with a serious illness.

Conditions and treatments

Digestive disorders we treat

The organs of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract make up your digestive system. Your liver, pancreas and gallbladder are part of your digestive system as well. Digestive disorders can affect any organ of the digestive system. Our experienced providers treat the full range of digestive conditions.

Digestive conditions

Many people experience digestive symptoms in their abdomen. Conditions we treat that may present with abdominal symptoms include:

Your colon helps absorb most of the water from food that gets digested. What remains — stool — moves through your colon and then exits your body. 

Conditions of the colon we treat include: 

Your esophagus is the tube that moves food from your throat to your stomach. Conditions of the esophagus we treat include: 

  • Barrett's esophagus

  • Esophageal varices

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • Swallowing difficulty (dysphagia)

Your gallbladder stores the bile made in your liver. Bile helps your body digest fats. 

Your pancreas makes enzymes that are important for digestion. It also produces insulin, the hormone that helps your body use sugar for energy. 

Conditions of the gallbladder and pancreas we treat include: 

  • Gallstones

  • Pancreatitis

Your liver has many functions, including helping your body digest food, storing energy and getting rid of toxins. Liver conditions we treat include: 

  • Alcoholic liver disease

  • Hepatitis

  • Nonalcoholic liver disease

Your rectum is the last portion of your colon, or large intestine. It’s attached to your anus, the opening at the end of the digestive tract that allows stool to exit your body. 

Conditions of the anus and rectum we treat include:

  • Anal cancer

  • Anal fissure

  • Anal itch (pruritus ani)

  • Anal warts (condyloma)

  • Fistula (perirectal abscess)

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Rectal cancer

  • Rectal prolapse

  • Ulcerative colitis

  • Pilonidal disease

  • Polyps

  • Rectal bleeding

Most of the digestion of the foods you eat takes place in your small intestine. Conditions of the small intestine we treat include: 

  • Celiac disease

Other digestive conditions we treat include:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding

  • Gastrointestinal problems during pregnancy

  • Malabsorption

  • Dumping syndrome

Helping you heal with nutrition and surgical care

We personalize care for your digestive system based on your specific needs. In many cases, simple treatments such as nutritional therapy or medication are helpful. If other treatments aren’t helpful, your doctors may recommend surgery. We offer the most advanced surgeries, including minimally invasive procedures. These procedures use tiny incisions. Compared to open surgery they often lead to a speedier recovery and result in less pain.

Changing what and how you eat may improve your digestive health. Our registered dietitians offer nutrition counseling and guidance.

  • Fistula treatment with setons

  • Hemorrhoid surgery, including hemorrhoid banding and hemorrhoid removal

  • Overlapping sphincteroplasty

  • Rectal exam under anesthesia (no pouch) 

  • Rectal exam under anesthesia (with pouch) 

  • Rectal prolapse

  • Rectovaginal fistula repair

  • Removal of anal warts

  • Sphincter repair for incontinence

  • Sphincter-saving surgery for rectal cancer

  • Surgical treatment of noncancerous anorectal disease

  • Transanal resection

  • Transanal surgical removal of rectal tumors

We create an opening in the abdomen called a stoma. The stoma provides another way to remove waste from the intestines. These procedures can be temporary or permanent treatments for cancer, illness or trauma.

  • Colostomy

  • Enterostomal therapy consultation and treatment

  • Ileal pouch reconstruction

  • Ileostomy takedown with ileal pouch 

  • Ostomy takedown

The small intestine, large intestine or rectum can be blocked or damaged by disease. We use bowel surgery to remove the affected bowel sections and then reconnected the healthy parts to restore function.

  • Abdominoperineal resection of the bowel 

  • Segmental resection of the colon and rectum

  • Surgical resection for complex Crohn's disease

  • Surgery for colon and rectal cancer

  • Surgery for inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis

  • Upper gastrointestinal surgery

Locations

Digestive services all under one roof

We offer most of our services through the Digestive Health Center. With a referral from your primary care provider, we’ll get you the help you need.

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  • UW Health Digestive Health Center
    UW Health Digestive Health Center
    Digestive Health Center
    • 750 University Row / Madison, WI
    • (608) 890-5000
    • Closed now
    • From routine colonoscopy to complex bowel obstruction, we see patients for all Digestive Health issues, including disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.

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      View hours, services and more
  • 20 S. Park Clinic - Gastroenterology
    • 20 S. Park St. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 890-5000
    • Closed now
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      View hours, services and more
  • American Family Children's Hospital - Pediatric Gastroenterology
    • 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6420
    • Closed now
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      View hours, services and more
  • University Hospital - Voice and Swallow Clinic
    • 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6190
    • Closed now
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      View hours, services and more

Meet our team

Teaming up to serve you

When you turn to UW Health for help with a digestive illness, you’ll have a team of expert doctors at your side.

The team includes GI specialists and doctors who focus on liver health. Radiologists, anesthesiologists and surgeons often have roles as well. They’re supported by patient educators, nutritionists, health psychologists and others, all working together to help you feel better.

Tests and diagnosis

Advanced testing for the right diagnosis

We use sophisticated tests to diagnose digestive disorders. They help us get you the best possible treatment. In some cases, you can receive treatments are given at the same time as your diagnostic test.

Diagnostic procedures

A colonoscopy allows us to see the inside of your colon. We use a special instrument with a camera on its tip that is inserted into your rectum.

  • Optical colonoscopy

  • Virtual colonoscopy

Endoscopy allows us to examine your digestive tract. We use a long, flexible tube — an endoscope — with a camera on its tip.

  • Balloon-assisted deep enteroscopy

  • Endoscopic mucosal resection 

  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography 

  • Endoscopic ultrasound

  • HALO radiofrequency ablation 

  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy

The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy has recognized UW Health for its commitment to quality, safety and patient care.

We do several procedures with the help of imaging tests. These take place in the radiology department.

  • Barium enema

  • Barium pouch study

  • Defecography

  • Upper GI small bowel follow-through

Other tests and procedures we offer through Digestive Health include:

  • 24-hour pH monitoring and impedance study

  • Anal manometry

  • Capsule enteroscopy or capsule camera study of the small intestine

  • Esophageal manometry

  • High-resolution anoscopy

  • Rectal dilatation

  • Rectal ultrasound

Patient stories: Expert care restores hope
Cecelia’s storyGI Pregnancy Clinic offers relief for expecting mom
Cecelia experiences hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition like morning sickness but more severe. It can cause serious health issues for mother and baby. With each pregnancy Cecelia’s condition worsened. She finally found help at UW Health.
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