HOUSTON (May 08, 2013)

Last month, Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center opened West Houston's first Digestive Health Center. The new 12,000-square-foot center, located at 920 Frostwood Drive, houses a team of multi-disciplinary physicians who diagnose and treat a wide range of digestive health issues, from gastrointestinal cancer, ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease to reflux disease, weight management issues and more.

"The Digestive Health Center streamlines care for patients by offering comprehensive and coordinated digestive services in one convenient, comfortable location," said Ira Flax, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Memorial City. "The Center is truly patient focused, bringing together the very best physicians in the field, who work together to improve the lives of our patients."

The modern, cutting-edge facility utilizes the most advanced medical screening equipment and technology. For example, the Digestive Health Center is one of the few facilities in the state to offer endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). This technology enables physicians to explore the gastrointestinal tract and surrounding organs without radiation. Using this minimally-invasive test, doctors can not only identify hard-to-detect cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract, esophagus, stomach and duodenum, pancreas and bile duct, but also diagnose other gastrointestinal diseases and unexplained symptoms.

"Endoscopic ultrasound opens up a whole new world in the diagnosis and evaluation of gastrointestinal diseases. With it, we can pinpoint problems early on, when they are easiest to treat," explained George Sun, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist affiliated with the hospital. "The results can be lifesaving for patients."

The Center offers a number of other tests to diagnose digestive disorders. Patients have access to bronchoscopy - a procedure where doctors can examine and diagnose problems in the airways using a thin viewing device called a bronchoscope. The facility also expects to continue to perform thousands of colonoscopies each year - still the gold standard in detecting and treating colon cancer.

Additionally, the Center's new Heartburn Treatment Program - the first of its kind in west Houston - focuses on the diagnosis and management of all aspects of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by a team of multidisciplinary experts. Patients have access to specialists who offer diagnostic testing that helps pinpoint the cause of GERD and plan treatment options. Testing options include esophageal manometry, which measures the strength and muscle coordination of the esophagus while swallowing. It also includes BRAVO pH monitoring, which detects how much acid is in the lower esophagus.

Beyond patient testing and treatment, the Center offers a range of programming to meet the growing needs of the community. Services and events include nutrition counseling, educational classes and events, specialized weight-loss services and support groups.