Gastrointestinal Surgery | Surgical Services | Loyola Medicine

Gastrointestinal Surgery

Integrated Surgical Treatments for Gastrointestinal Conditions

Loyola Medicine offers comprehensive, integrated care for conditions and diseases requiring gastrointestinal surgery, which includes the surgical treatment of the esophagus, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Our highly experienced gastrointestinal surgeons work as part of a clinically integrated care team, partnering with interventional endoscopists, endocrine surgeons, hepatologists, radiologists, oncologists, transplant surgeons and other specialists to provide state-of-the-art surgical techniques for many conditions.

Why Choose Loyola for Gastrointestinal Surgery?

Loyola provides truly integrated clinical care for gastrointestinal conditions and disorders, bringing together specialists in interventional endoscopy, colon and rectal surgery, bariatric surgery, radiology, surgical oncology and transplant surgery to provide adults and children with advanced care in a compassionate environment. As part of an academic medical center, Loyola’s expert clinicians perform the latest surgical techniques and medical treatments in numerous locations across the Chicago area.

All of our gastrointestinal surgeons are fellowship-trained and provide training and education to surgeons at other hospitals. For patients with colorectal cancer and other cancerous conditions, Loyola’s gastrointestinal surgeons work closely with our highly skilled surgical oncology team who specializes exclusively in the diagnosis, biopsy and surgical removal of many types of cancer. In addition, our nurses have earned Magnet status, which means they have been recognized for delivering the highest level of care.

How are Gastrointestinal Diseases Diagnosed?

Loyola’s gastrointestinal surgeons are experts at diagnosing and treating benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) conditions. Your doctor will take a detailed medical and family history and conduct an examination. Depending on your condition, your doctor may request imaging.

Loyola offers state-of-the-art imaging techniques, including:

  • Anorectal manometry — For patients experiencing constipation or fecal incontinence, this test can measure the tone and coordination of the anal sphincter and rectal muscles; it may be used to diagnose bowel problems.

  • Blood tests — Your gastrointestinal surgeon may request blood tests to check for signs of infection from bacteria or viruses.

  • Capsule endoscopy — For patients suspected of having Crohn’s disease, your doctor may perform capsule endoscopy. In this procedure, a small camera capsule provides images of your gastrointestinal tract and then is expelled from the body painlessly through stool.

  • Colonoscopy — Using endoscopy, your doctor can view your colon, take tissue samples and detect ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. Learn more about colonoscopy.

  • CT scan (computed tomography) — Your doctor may use CT technology to create images of the entire bowel, which provides more detail than X-ray images. For images of the small bowel, CT enterography is used. For patients unable to have a colonoscopy, CT colonography (also called virtual colonoscopy) may be recommended. Learn more about CT scan.

  • Double-balloon enteroscopy — For patients who have undergone a colonoscopy for evaluation of symptoms but not gotten a clear diagnosis, your doctor may recommend double-balloon endoscopy. This procedure allows your doctor to see your entire gastrointestinal tract in real time.

  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) — Through the use of an endoscope and X-ray imaging, your doctor may use ERCP to visualize tumors, blockages and gallstones.

  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) — EUS can be used to diagnose and stage gastrointestinal cancers, as well as to determine if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. This technique can also be used to evaluate and diagnose noncancerous gastrointestinal conditions.

  • Fecal occult blood test — Your doctor may use fecal occult blood testing to evaluate blood in the stool, which may be caused by polyps, colorectal cancers and gastrointestinal disorders. This test may be followed by other tests, including colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, to determine the exact cause of blood in your stool.

  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) — An MRI scanner uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of organs and tissues. MRI is particularly useful for evaluating a fistula around the anal area (pelvic MRI) or the small intestine (MR enterography). Unlike CT, MRI imaging uses no radiation. Learn more about MRI.

  • Sigmoidoscopy — If you have been experiencing abdominal pain, blood or mucus in your stool, diarrhea, constipation or other bowel changes, your doctor may use flexible or rigid sigmoidoscopy to obtain clear images of your colon and rectum. Your doctor may also use this technology to screen for colorectal cancer and polyps and take tissue samples for testing.

  • Upper GI endoscopy — For patients experiencing difficulty eating or swallowing, nausea, vomiting, or upper abdominal pain, your doctor may use upper endoscopy to evaluate the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), esophagus and stomach. This imaging technique is more accurate than X-ray imaging in the detection of inflammation, ulcers and tumors. Your doctor can perform a biopsy to determine if suspicious tissue is benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

  • X-ray — For patients with severe symptoms, your doctor may use X-ray imaging of your abdominal area to rule out serious complications, such as a perforated colon. To provide clearer images, this may be performed with a contrast medium such as barium. Learn more about X-ray.

Gastrointestinal Surgeries Performed at Loyola

Loyola’s highly experienced, board-certified gastrointestinal surgeons specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and management of conditions and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Our team has received specialized training to diagnose complex conditions and provide the most advanced treatment options, including:

  • Abdominal wall reconstruction — For patients with a pancreatic leak or abdominal weakness caused by recurrent hernias, this surgery involves making incisions in the abdomen and reshaping the abdominal wall; this is often performed with the collaboration of a plastic surgeon.
  • Adjustable gastric banding — For the treatment of overweight patients, Loyola offers this procedure in which a saline-filled band is wrapped around a portion of the stomach, limiting the amount of food the stomach can hold and signaling the feeling of fullness. Learn about adjustable gastric banding.
  • Appendectomy — This procedure removes an inflamed or ruptured appendix. In some cases of appendicitis prior to rupture, laparoscopic surgery may be recommended.
  • Biliary surgery — Loyola’s expert gastrointestinal surgeons provide advanced surgical treatments for diseases of the pancreas, gallbladder, liver and bile ducts.
  • Biopsy — Your gastrointestinal surgeon is skilled in collecting tissue samples to determine if cells are benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
  • Cholecystectomy — For patients experiencing gallstones or an infection, the gallbladder may be removed; this procedure may be performed laparoscopically.
  • Colectomy — For the treatment of some conditions and diseases of the colon, your surgeon may recommend partial colectomy (removal of part of the colon), total colectomy (removal of the entire colon) or proctocolectomy (removal of the colon and rectum).
  • Endoscopic surgery — Your gastrointestinal surgeon is versed in a wide array of minimally invasive techniques for the diagnosis, treatment and management of gastrointestinal diseases and conditions.
  • Esophageal surgery — For early stage esophageal cancer, your gastrointestinal surgeon may remove the cancerous tissue, as well as some healthy surrounding tissue; this may be combined with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. For later stages of esophageal cancer and high-grade dysplasia, your surgeon may recommend an esophagectomy, which is the removal of some or most of the esophagus; the remaining tissue is then connected to the stomach.
  • Gastric bypass surgery — For patients who are obese and have not benefitted from diet and exercise, gastric bypass surgery may be recommended to reach a healthy weight and improve overall health and quality of life. Learn about gastric bypass.
  • Gastric sleeve (sleeve gastrectomy) — For the treatment of patients who are morbidly obese, Loyola’s gastrointestinal surgeons are experienced in this bariatric surgery that limits the amount of food a person can eat by creating a narrow, sleeve-shaped pouch in the stomach than can only hold a small amount of food.
  • Hernia repair — Your gastrointestinal surgeon is experienced in the surgical repair of inguinal, incisional, umbilical and hiatal hernias. Learn about hernia surgery.
  • Liver resection — For the treatment of liver disease or liver tumors, the diseased portion of the liver can be removed; the remaining liver cells will grow to compensate for the part that was removed.
  • Pancreatic surgery — We offer our patients minimally invasive pancreatic surgery for certain types of pancreatic problems, including endocrine tumors of the pancreas and pancreatic pseudocysts.
  • Whipple procedure — The Whipple procedure is the most common procedure used to remove pancreatic cancer and is one of the most extensive operations in surgery. Also called a pancreatoduodenectomy, the surgery involves the removal of parts of four organs and reconstruction of the digestive tract. It may also be used to treat some benign pancreatic lesions, along with cancers in the bile duct and part of the small intestine. Learn about the Whipple procedure.

Exceptional Services to Surgically Treat Gastrointestinal Conditions

Loyola’s gastrointestinal surgery program provides expert surgical treatment in outstanding, conveniently located facilities. We have multidisciplinary facilities at the Loyola University Medical Center campus, in addition to outpatient services at other locations.

We offer the following specialized services to provide you with the most comprehensive care:

  • Cancer surgery (surgical oncology) — Our fellowship-trained cancer surgeons specialize exclusively in the diagnosis, biopsy and surgical removal of many types of cancer. Loyola’s cancer surgeons work closely with doctors in medical oncology, hematology and radiation therapy to create an integrated care team and provide you with the best possible cancer care.
  • Colon and rectal surgery — Loyola’s experienced colon and rectal surgeons treat a variety of problems of the colon, rectum and anus; this can include benign conditions, such as hemorrhoids, as well as cancer.
  • Endocrine surgery — Our skilled endocrine surgeons provide advanced treatment for neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas.
  • ​Interventional endoscopy — Loyola’s specialists provide advanced surgical treatment of the esophagus, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Most gastrointestinal surgeries can be performed through minimally invasive approaches, avoiding the need for a more invasive open procedure.
  • Minimally invasive surgery — Minimally invasive surgical procedures include endoscopy, laparoscopy and robotic-assisted surgery. These procedures can be performed with tiny incisions or no incisions, benefitting the patient with less loss of blood, less scarring and a quicker recovery time.
  • Pediatric surgery — Pediatric surgeons work in conjunction with Loyola’s other pediatric subspecialists to provide surgical treatment for newborns, children and adolescents. These surgeons have additional training and expertise in the surgical care for the problems of children and treat a range of pediatric problems—both congenital (present at birth) and acquired.
  • ​Transplant surgery — Transplant surgery may be the best medical option for patients with organ failure or other severe conditions of the kidney, liver, heart and lungs. For these patients, Loyola provides expertise in kidney transplant, liver transplant, lung transplant and heart transplant.
  • Weight loss (bariatric) surgery — Loyola’s Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care at Melrose Park offers medical and surgical options for weight loss treatment. The comprehensive program offers several surgical options, including adjustable gastric banding, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.

The gastrointestinal cancer risk assessment program at Loyola also helps our patients identify whether they have a higher genetic predisposition to developing cancer in the colon and rectum or elsewhere in the GI system. We will suggest additional screenings for patients who are at a higher risk because of genetic factors.

Ongoing Research to Advance Gastrointestinal Procedures

Loyola’s expert gastrointestinal surgery program is actively pursuing new research with a focus on patient-centered outcomes, including studies on:

As an academic medical center, Loyola is dedicated to improving future treatments by conducting research on new diagnostics and treatments. Loyola’s patients benefit from research discoveries made here; read about Loyola’s current clinical trials.