CHI Memorial Medical Group

Health Topics

We hope you find our health topics informative. If you would like more information, please call our office at (423) 698-8692.

Get GERD under control 

Heartburn, indigestion or chest discomfort are feelings many people experience occasionally after a rich or heavy meal. But for people living with gastroesophageal reflux disease (commonly called GERD), those uncomfortable feelings can be a daily frustration. If medications and diet modifications aren’t providing lasting relief, surgical options are available to help control or even alleviate these painful symptoms.

Most people who seek surgical treatment for GERD have tried various combinations of medicines to control symptoms with limited success or have problems with stomach juices coming up to the back of the throat or voice box. This fluid can cause hoarseness, a bitter taste in the mouth, and even respiratory issues if left untreated.

Getting back to your Life

Thankfully there are treatment options that don’t just mask the symptoms of GERD – but keep acid from coming up into the esophagus where it causes pain and irritation.

Surgery reinforces where the lower esophagus meets the stomach to keep acid where it belongs – in your stomach. Nearly all procedures for acid reflux are performed using minimally invasive techniques, meaning you can recover more quickly and get back to living your life faster than ever before.

Walter Rose, MD, FACS

Stomach pain could be your gallbladder

A gallbladder attack can be a painful – and potentially dangerous – medical condition. The gallbladder sits just below the liver and stores the bile that your body uses to aid in digestion. When there’s an improper balance of chemicals in the bile, it can harden into gall stones. In some cases, a gall stone may cause inflammation, infection or other serious complications.

Pain in the upper right abdomen, bloating, gas and sometimes diarrhea are all symptoms of a gallbladder issue. Symptoms can be mild and cause occasional discomfort after a fattier meal, or it can be severe enough to wake you up in the middle of the night and make you think you’re having a heart attack.

Treatment for gallstones is straightforward – a minimally invasive surgical procedure is used to remove the stones through four small incisions. Most people go home the same day, and full recovery is three to four weeks. Many people return to work sooner depending on their pain tolerance and job description. Most people aren’t aware they have gall stones because there’s no reason to test for them until symptoms arise.  Sometimes they are found through an ultrasound or CT scan that your doctor ordered for another reason.

If you do experience symptoms of gallbladder attack – with upper abdomen pain, fever, jaundice or a combination of these – it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. When a stone moves into the bile duct, a blockage can occur – leading to pain, jaundice, abnormal liver levels, or pancreatitis. In these more serious cases, an additional procedure to clear the bile duct may be necessary.

J. Andrew Lovette, MD, FACS

Robotic-assisted surgery 

The science of surgery is always changing. More than ever before, you have options for minimally invasive surgical procedures – including robotic surgery for gallbladder, hernia repair and colon resection. Just as with other emerging technologies, robotic surgery has advanced through careful planning and intense education. As the technology evolves, so will the type of surgeries that can be performed using this method.

I saw the advantages of robotic surgery and became an early adopter of the technology, believing it would continue to advance and lead to better outcomes and quicker recovery. Robotic hernia repair is the fastest growing procedure in robotics because of the enhanced visualization and the ability to work in a confined space.

Improvements in the surgical instruments and robotics’ software are overcoming some of the challenges with traditional and laparoscopic procedures. Surgeons continue to learn how the robot can be used most effectively to provide a safer procedure, with fewer incisions, less pain and a faster recovery. 

During any robotic procedure, the robot translates the surgeon’s movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside the patient’s body. Because the robot’s wristed instruments can move in 360-degree rotations, the robot’s hands can move inside a tiny space that human hand could never reach.

With any robotic procedure, the surgeon is in complete control. Patients who undergo robotic-assisted surgical procedures typically experience shorter hospital stays, reduced rates of complications, less blood loss, minimal scarring and quicker return to normal activities compared to open procedures. At CHI Memorial, you can trust the most skilled surgeons – using the most advanced technology – to provide exceptional surgical care.  

Daniel Heithold, MD, FACS

Dr. Andrew Lovette discuses hernia repair

Dr. Christina Parkhurst discusses hernia screening