The GI Motility Program, within the UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, features world-leading experts in gastrointestinal (GI) motility — conditions that, if not properly treated, can significantly impair quality of life. The program brings together wide-ranging experts in the scientific, clinical, psychological and nutritional aspects of these disorders, taking a team approach in order to optimize and individualize the care of each patient.
Gastrointestinal motility disorders disrupt the transport of ingested materials along the digestive system. Such disorders can cause dysfunction in any part of the GI tract — the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon or anus. They can lead to symptoms that include difficulty swallowing, the sensation of food sticking in the chest or throat, chest pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, bloating, cramping, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea.
Backed by research into the workings of each organ within the GI tract (esophagus, stomach, small bowel and colon), the GI Motility Program team uses all of the latest modalities to properly diagnose each patient and guide treatment. These modalities include high-resolution anorectal manometry, high-resolution esophageal manometry, esophageal impedance pH testing, wireless esophageal pH testing, wireless motility capsule, and sugar tolerance testing. In addition to state-of-the-art medical treatments, the program uses biofeedback therapy for the treatment of constipation and fecal incontinence. Our interventional endoscopists use transoral incisionless fundoplication to treat GERD and perform endoscopic myotomies, the POEM procedure to treat achalasia, and GPOEM to treat gastroparesis. Our urogynecologists use sacral nerve stimulation to treat fecal incontinence, and our GI surgeons use gastric neural stimulation to treat gastroparesis. Swallowing disorders are expertly and collaboratively managed by gastroenterologists, surgeons, otolaryngologists, and speech language pathologists.
Members of the GI motility group work closely with colleagues in rheumatology and pulmonary medicine on innovative approaches to the diagnosis and optimization of treatment for motility disorders in patients with scleroderma and lung transplantation. Recently, we set up collaborations with neurology to diagnose and treat GI motor dysfunction in patients with Parkinson’s disease. We are also an integral part of the Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health. Multidisciplinary clinical and educational conferences are regularly held for disorders of esophageal and pelvic floor function, as well as functional bowel disorders. This facilitates expert treatment of these GI disorders.
The GI motility clinic is set up to optimize patient care. In addition to gastroenterologists, patients can see a GI dietitian to help them plan a diet that reduces symptoms such as bloating and gas; a GI health psychologist who works with patients whose symptoms are not related to anatomical or physiological abnormalities; and an integrative health nurse practitioner who teaches relaxation techniques and other strategies designed to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. By working together in this holistic approach, our GI Motility Program team strives to ensure that all patients can lead full, productive lives with minimal symptoms.