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Leadership Blog

Commitment to Excellence in Gastroenterology and GI Surgery Pays Off

Mohamed Othman, MD, AGAF, Chief of Medicine, Subspecialty Service Line, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, and Kalpesh Patel, MD, Associate Professor and Medical Director, Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Baylor College of Medicine

December 23, 2023 Posted in: Leadership
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Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center has long been recognized throughout the U.S. and around the world as a premier center for cardiovascular care. A decade of effort to achieve a similar status in gastroenterology and GI surgery is bearing fruit, thanks to our embrace of collaborative care and dedication to breaking new ground in the service of enhancing treatment options for patients.

U.S. News & World Report ranked BSLMC among the top 40 hospitals in the country for Gastroenterology and GI Surgery for 2023–2024. This recognition signifies to referring providers and patients alike that we provide safe, efficient and thoughtful care. In addition, as an academic medical practice, we deliver leading-edge medicine that constantly evolves to meet patients’ needs and keep pace with an ever-advancing field.

Pushing Our Field Forward With Leading-Edge Care

At BSLMC, we provide comprehensive care that’s at the forefront of gastroenterology and GI surgery. Few treatments illustrate our team’s collaborative, pioneering spirit more than endoscopic submucosal dissection, which allows for organ-preserving resection of early-stage GI cancers.

Our team began offering endoscopic submucosal dissection in 2014, and we now perform approximately 300 of these procedures per year. Collaborating with GI surgeons allows us to seamlessly determine which patients are best suited for an endoscopic or surgical approach and refer accordingly. 

Advanced endoscopy is a particular strength for our team, which includes six subspecialized physicians in this area alone. Our program is a pioneer in third space endoscopy, including endoscopic submucosal dissection and peroral endoscopic myotomy, or POEM. For patients with achalasia, for example, we can perform POEM and, using the submucosa as a space to reach and disrupt the muscle layer at the end of the esophagus, relieve symptoms without surgical intervention.

BSLMC also led the way in endoscopic transcecal appendectomy, a type of natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery. For patients with tumors arising in the appendix, we can use a colonoscopic approach to remove the appendix without an incision, eliminating scarring and allowing patients to enjoy a quicker recovery.

Additional highlights of our program include:

  • 24/7 gastroenterologist coverage and a full range of treatment options for hospitalized patients with GI bleeding, including adhesive powders and gels, hemostatic clips, and endoscopic suturing

  • High-resolution motility tests that allow our physicians to select the most appropriate, least invasive interventions for patients with swallowing disorders

  • Leading-edge treatments, including the latest medications and minimally invasive procedures, for inflammatory bowel disease

  • Rapid diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Elkins Pancreas Center, thanks to collaboration between our pancreas and biliary endoscopists and surgeons

State-of-the-Art Space Reflects Gastroenterology’s Evolution

Over the past decade, gastroenterology has evolved from a primarily internal medicine field, in which medications were the main treatment option, to include endoscopic solutions to manage conditions once only treatable with surgery. A new, dedicated space for endoscopy allows BSLMC to keep pace with this evolution.

In 2023, we celebrated the opening of the O’Quinn Medical Tower on BSLMC’s McNair Campus. Home to the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, the O’Quinn Medical Tower also features a third-floor endoscopy unit. With 10 rooms, the unit is double the size of a standard endoscopy area. Gastroenterologists and surgeons designed the unit to meet the technical requirements of providing the most advanced care now and in the future.

The new endoscopy unit features equipment that’s at the forefront of endoscopic innovation, including devices under trial or just coming onto the market, some of which we developed. With tools like these, we’re able to manage certain conditions endoscopically, which, in some cases, wouldn’t have been possible just five years ago.

Endoscopic innovation isn’t our only strength. We pride ourselves on treating patients like family. Our skilled, compassionate nurses and technicians go the extra mile to make patients feel comfortable from the moment they enter our unit until it’s time to go home.

Future Focused

This is an exhilarating time for gastroenterology and GI surgery. At BSLMC, we have exciting plans to enhance our program in the years ahead. Some are already in motion.

Recently, we expanded our sophisticated, multidisciplinary care to our sister hospital, St. Luke’s Health - Sugar Land Hospital. There, a gastroenterologist and a surgeon collaborate to perform a novel laparoscopic/endoscopic procedure to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease and heartburn. With this combined approach, patients recover faster and can take advantage of integrated, long-term care between their providers.

Our plans for the future also include:

  • Continuing to offer education to community physicians

  • Continuing to participate in a variety of randomized and prospective clinical trials in advanced endoscopy to bring new procedures and innovations to the field

  • Developing and introducing novel techniques

  • Establishing clinical board meetings for all GI conditions

  • Strengthening our multidisciplinary approach with more joint clinics and procedures

  • Using dedicated coordinators and IT solutions to streamline the referral process for the most complex patients

  • Training the next generation of leaders in the field through our robust residency and fellowship programs

We’d like the health care community to know that if you’ve read or heard about a gastroenterological treatment, we offer it at BSLMC. We have substantial experience in providing and developing leading-edge care for all aspects of GI conditions. Our field is shifting toward minimally invasive procedures and organ-preserving surgery, and we’re at the forefront of this revolution. What we’re doing at BSLMC is not only changing outcomes for patients, but also changing the trajectory of our specialty.

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