"The ability to provide IBD patients minimally invasive surgical procedures represents one of the most significant advances in the care of this patient population over the past decade."
Dr. Raymond Cross holds a colonoscope, an example of the diagnostic equipment used in the Digestive Health Center.
"Inflammatory bowel disease typically strikes someone in the prime of their life," says Raymond Cross, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a group of disorders that affect the intestines, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, cramping and bleeding. The most common examples of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
The University of Maryland Medical Center is home to a new Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, located within the Digestive Health Center. It is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialists in gastroenterology, general surgery, radiology, nutrition and other support services, dedicated to accurately diagnosing and managing IBD and increasing patients’ quality of life.
“There is a strong emphasis on educating patients about their illness, detecting and avoiding medication side effects, and improved disease monitoring,” says Dr. Cross. There is also a strong emphasis on using minimally invasive techniques to help patients.
Using some of the most advanced technology available, the Center offers state-of-the-art radiology services. In addition to offering standard imaging, they have abdominal and pelvic MRI, virtual colonoscopy, and advanced interventional radiology.
The Center also uses a video capsule in which a patient swallows a pill-like camera the size of a nickel. It travels from the esophagus to the colon taking two pictures every second. The pictures are downloaded to a utility belt that patients must wear throughout the day, but otherwise they can go about normal activities. This video capsule can reveal 20 feet of the small bowel that cannot be seen during a routine endoscopy. While the video capsule -- a test known as capsule endoscopy -- will not replace traditional endoscopy it is another useful and very simple tool to examine the intestine and determine the correct diagnosis.
Once the diagnosis is established, a treatment plan is devised. The Center’s specialists have expertise in prescribing the core medications used to treat IBD. In addition, they have extensive knowledge in more experimental medications and the newer biologic therapies that need to be administered at an on-site infusion center.
Surgery may be another treatment option. The most advanced minimally invasive techniques are used by the Center’s surgeons to treat all types of gastrointestinal illnesses.