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Gastroenterology

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Gastroenterology is the diagnosis and treatment of problems in the digestive system, including the stomach, intestines, liver and pancreas. At Seattle Children's, our team provides testing and treatment for children and teens who have complex gastrointestinal illnesses. We have extensive experience treating intestinal failure, inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease. We have the only liver and small bowel transplant programs for children in the Pacific Northwest.

US News 2013 Gastro

Awards and Recognition  

In 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked Children’s Gastroenterology program as one of the best in the country.

Conditions We Treat


We diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions that affect your child's digestive system, including:


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBD is a group of long-lasting illnesses in which the intestine becomes swollen and red and can develop sores. Most often, IBD refers to Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Read more about IBD and the IBD Center at Seattle Children’s.

Celiac disease (gluten intolerance)

Celiac disease is a disorder caused by the body's reaction to proteins (gluten) found in wheat, rye, barley and other grain products made from them. Parts of the small intestine that help absorb nutrients from food (villi) get damaged when people with celiac disease eat gluten. When the villi are damaged, your child's body can't get nutrients it needs to grow. Read more.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

GERD happens when food and acid from your child's stomach come back up into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth and stomach. Stomach contents irritate the esophagus, causing a burning feeling or leaving a bad taste in the back of the mouth. If not treated, GERD can lead to more serious problems.

Malabsorption disorders

Malabsorption disorders are problems with processing or absorbing nutrients from food and drink. This may be due to the fact that the body makes too little of a complex protein (enzyme) needed to break down a food. This is the case with lactose intolerance, a problem with processing milk and milk products. Having too much stomach acid, not enough bile or too many of the wrong kinds of bacteria in the small intestine can also cause malabsorption disorders.

Acute and chronic liver disease

Many diseases, both those that are short-term (acute) and those that are long-term (chronic), can affect the liver. These diseases include hepatitis. Some liver diseases can cause the organ to fail.

Pancreatic insufficiency

The pancreas makes hormones that control blood sugar and juices that help break down food. Pancreatic insufficiency occurs when your child's pancreas doesn't make enough of the juices needed to break down food and drink (digestion). Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common causes of pancreatic insufficiency in children.

Acute and chronic pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is swelling and redness (inflammation) in the organ called the pancreas. The pancreas makes hormones that control blood sugar and juices that help break down food. The juices usually don't become active until they move to the small intestine, where they break down (digest) food. If the juices become active while still in the pancreas, they can begin digesting the organ itself. Some children develop sudden cases of pancreatitis that end quickly (acute pancreatitis). When acute pancreatitis triggers repeated attacks, the disease is called chronic pancreatitis.

Services We Provide

Infusion

We offer infusion services at our main campus in Seattle and at our Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center for patients who need transfusions, fluids or IV medications.

Liver transplantation

Children's has the only programs in the Pacific Northwest for liver transplants and small bowel transplants for children. Read more.

Intestine transplantation

Children's has the only programs in the Pacific Northwest for liver transplants and small bowel transplants for children. Read more.

Gastrointestinal endoscopy

Gastrointestinal endoscopy allows your child's doctor to look inside your child's body, from the mouth to the large bowel (gastrointestinal tract). During endoscopy, a healthcare provider uses a small, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end (endoscope). Usually, the tube is inserted in your child's mouth to see the upper part of the gastrointestinal system or through their bottom (rectum) to see the lower part. Our providers have much experience in performing endoscopies on children, and take care to ensure the procedure is as safe and comfortable as possible.

pH probe monitoring

Doctors often perform pH probe monitoring along with gastrointestinal endoscopy. During this test, a healthcare provider inserts a small wire into the lower part of the tube that carries food to the stomach (esophagus). The wire carries a device that measures the amount of acid going into the area.

Liver biopsy

During a liver biopsy, doctors take a small sample of the liver. Later, they examine the sample under a microscope to look for signs that help them make a diagnosis. Children usually are given medicine to make them sleep while having a biopsy.

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