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 might face.

Specialty clinics

The purpose of this clinic is to improve the quality of care and provide unique team care to patients with alcohol use disorder and alcohol-associated liver disease. Each patient will meet with a hepatology provider, an addiction medicine specialist, and a social worker to provide the most complete care.

The clinic allows providers to optimize the management of complications of liver disease, including cirrhosis, to improve the patient's quality of life. We also provide and connect patients with resources for both alcohol counseling and mental health counseling, as needed.

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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.

Watch this video about the GI Genetics Clinic

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.

Short-term individual and group services supporting your digestive health condition. In-person and virtual options available.

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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.

Comprehensive care for patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Each patient seen in the MLHC is evaluated by a hepatology provider (liver specialist) to determine the most effective care plan. In addition to NAFLD and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) care, the clinic provides care for patients with cirrhosis or liver cancer from NAFLD. Much of any necessary testing can be completed in the clinic, including labs and elastography (to measure liver scarring). Educational materials are reviewed, and a nutrition plan is discussed, utilizing our nutrition services. Some patients may qualify for behavioral health services or a medical weight loss program tailored to patients with NAFLD. Our close partnership with Bariatric Surgery, Endocrinology and Transplant Surgery allows us to connect patients with other services that may improve their overall health.

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Improving 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.

Learn more about our research

Conditions and treatments

Digestive disorders

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 might 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 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


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


Digestive services all under one roof

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

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 digestive 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 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.

Preparing for your procedures

Find resources to help you prepare for your colonoscopy procedure, including prep instructions: Preparing for colonoscopy prep kit

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.

Resources to help you prepare

Learn more about the procedures:

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.