Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for: March, 2021

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
March 24, 2021
RectoceleRectocele, better known as posterior vaginal prolapse, results from a weakening of the tissue that lies between the vagina and rectum (the rectovaginal septum). This can lead to a bulge or herniation within the back wall of the vagina. This is a fairly common condition for women, but many women don’t even notice symptoms. Unfortunately, sometimes rectocele can result in bowel issues. From regularly straining during bowel movements to vaginal delivery, there are many reasons why a woman may be dealing with a rectocele. If you think you could be dealing with rectocele, turn to a gastroenterologist to find out.
 
What are the symptoms of rectocele?

Some women with rectocele don’t even know that they have it until their OBGYN discovers it during a routine wellness exam; however, if the bulging tissue is rather large then symptoms may appear. Signs of rectocele include,
  • Trouble with completing full bowel movements
  • Needing to apply pressure to the vagina or the rectovaginal septum to complete a bowel movement
  • Straining during a bowel movement
  • Frequent urges to have a bowel movement throughout the day
  • Rectal pain
  • Constipation
Other symptoms include vaginal fullness, bleeding, and pain with intercourse.
 
Treating Rectocele

If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, then your gastroenterologist may not recommend treatment since your daily routine isn’t being impacted; however, if you are experiencing symptoms, the first course of action will be to improve bowel movements and to make them easier and less uncomfortable. Nonsurgical treatment options are usually enough to resolve any issues associated with a rectocele.
 
To prevent straining and constipation, lifestyle changes may include:
  • Staying hydrated
  • Eating a high-fiber diet
  • Performing pelvic floor exercises
  • Biofeedback to improve pelvic floor muscle function
  • Using stool softeners
If non-surgical options have not provided you with relief and your symptoms are interfering with your life, then your doctor may recommend surgery to restore and strengthen the rectovaginal septum.
 
While your OBGYN may recognize this problem while performing a routine exam, additional testing may be necessary. Along with your OBGYN, a gastroenterologist is also trained to be able to diagnose and treat this problem. Call your gastroenterologist to find out whether you could benefit from rectocele treatment.

By NASHVILLE GASTROINTESTINAL SPECIALISTS
March 10, 2021
Category: GI Care
Tags: Achalasia  
AchalasiaThe esophagus is a tube that directs food from the throat to the stomach. Achalasia is a rare swallowing disorder that makes it more challenging for both foods and liquids to go through the esophagus into the stomach. A healthy esophagus can contract and guide food into the stomach, but when the nerves of the esophagus become damaged this can cause the esophagus to become dilated, which means that it can
no longer contract to push food along. If you or someone you know has achalasia, a gastroenterologist can provide you with ways to manage your symptoms.

What are the symptoms and signs?

The most common signs of achalasia include,
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Choking (often during regurgitation)
  • Indigestion
  • Chest discomfort, particularly after eating
If you or someone you love is having difficulty swallowing or experiencing other symptoms of achalasia you must see your gastroenterologist right away.

How is achalasia treated?

Achalasia requires treatment to prevent the condition from getting worse. As you might imagine, not being able to properly eat or drink anything can have detrimental effects on a person’s health and nutritional needs, as well as increase a person’s risk for aspirational pneumonia and lung infections (this is more common in seniors). Common treatment options include:
  1. Surgery: Traditional surgery, known as Heller myotomy, is the most common way to treat achalasia and it involves cutting the muscles of the valves that lie between the stomach and esophagus. Some patients may be candidates for laparoscopic surgery, which is a more minimally invasive technique.
  2. Balloon dilation: For patients who may not be able to undergo surgery, another way to treat achalasia is with balloon dilation, which is a non-surgical technique performed under moderate sedation where a balloon is placed into the esophagus and inflated to widen the area so food can easier go from the esophagus into the stomach.
  3. Botox: Botox may help to relax muscle spasms and to improve how food flows through the esophagus. Those patients who aren’t candidates for surgery or dilation may want to consider the benefits of Botox.
Since those with achalasia have a slightly increased risk for esophageal cancer, you must talk with your gastroenterologist about regular cancer screenings. If you or a loved one is experiencing difficulty swallowing, you must turn to a gastroenterologist who can perform the appropriate tests to find out whether a problem with the esophagus might be to blame.