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Format: 04/19/2014
Format: 04/19/2014


Allegheny General Opens Specialized Center to Treat Gastroparesis

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

PITTSBURGH – Digestive disease specialists at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) are opening a Gastroparesis Center, the first program of its kind in the region to help patients combat an increasingly common and often physically and emotionally devastating disorder.

The new AGH Gastroparesis Center joins a number of programs directed by the hospital’s Center for Digestive Health, including the Functional Bowel Program, the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program and the Celiac Sprue Clinic, that offer patients highly specialized, multidisciplinary care in one location.

“With the opening the Gastroparesis Center we have significantly enhanced our capabilities for serving a patient population that has few options for comprehensive care,” said Paul Lebovitz, MD, Director of the Division of Gastroenterology, West Penn Allegheny Health System. “The most common cause of gastroparesis is diabetes, and so as the incidence of diabetes continues to increase in our community, we can expect to see the number of patients with gastroparesis increasing.”

Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. The muscles of the stomach and intestine cease to function correctly, and food moves slowly - or even stops moving – through the digestive tract.

High blood glucose can cause gastroparesis, which in turn makes diabetes control difficult. Other causes include stomach surgery, viral infections, anorexia or bulimia, medications such as anticholinergenics and narcotics. Food that remains too long in the stomach can cause bacterial overgrowth or form hard masses called bezoars that cause nausea and vomiting, and can be dangerous if they block the passage of food into the small intestine.”

“At the Gastroparesis Center, we can give patients all the care they need in one place. Not only will they see a physician specializing in gastroenterology, they can also see a doctor with expertise in nutrition, a psychologist, and a dietitian,” Dr. Lebovitz said. “If surgical treatment is deemed necessary, we can easily transition the patient to the care of one of our surgeons.”

“Patients with gastroparesis often suffer terribly with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain,” Dr. Lebovitz added. “They need specialized care that addresses their emotional as well as physical needs.”

The Gastroparesis Center is modeled after AGH’s highly successful Allegheny Center for Digestive Health/Functional Bowel Program, one of only a few such comprehensive programs in the United States devoted to the care of these patients. Patients in the Functional Bowel Program are evaluated by a gastroenterologist, nutritionist, an integrated medicine physician, psychiatrist and clergy if necessary to formulate a comprehensive treatment plan.

At the AGH Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, patients with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis are assessed and managed by a gastroenterologists, nutritionists and colorectal surgeons to determine the most appropriate treatment. The Celiac Sprue Clinic helps educate patients with celiac disease and is designed to improve their quality of life in the shortest time possible.

The Gastroparesis Center is located at the Allegheny Center for Digestive Health offices in the Federal North Building, 1307 Federal St. on Pittsburgh’s North Side. For more information, call the Center at 412-359-8900 or West Penn Allegheny’s toll free physician access line (1-877-284-2000).


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