Digestive Diseases

Our digestive diseases experts are national and international leaders in gastrointestinal care.

Find your care

The UCLA digestive diseases team cares for routine and complex gastrointestinal problems. To learn more about our services, call 800-UCLA-MD1 (800-825-2631).

Illustration of woman and stomach

Why choose UCLA Health for gastroenterology?

The specialists in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases have been national and international leaders in gastroenterology for more than 65 years. Our program is ranked No. 4 in the nation for gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

We provide care for both common and rare digestive conditions. When you choose our team, you benefit from:

Comprehensive care: Our gastroenterologists run a variety of programs that offer specialized, niche care. We have subspecialty programs for patients with celiac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases and functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, to name a few. Our team also includes a nutrition program designed to help you balance the symptoms of a chronic condition with the pleasures of eating.

Leaders in research: Our clinicians are leading the way in researching personalized approaches to gut health. The researchers in our division have pioneered the path to understanding how the trillions of bacteria in our gut connect to our brain and vice versa. We continually look for ways to make procedures less invasive and use targeted treatments for chronic conditions.

Training and teaching: We have prepared many of the top clinical and research gastroenterologists across the world for their practice. We work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, meaning residents and fellows benefit from working with a variety of subspecialists. As a patient, you receive care from clinicians who are at the top of their field.

Our areas of care

We offer gastroenterology services in the Melvin and Bren Simon Digestive Disease Center at UCLA Health. We also have several outpatient locations where we offer consultations and subspecialty services. Our areas of care include:

Digestive health and nutrition

We offer a range of programs that address digestive problems and nutritional concerns, including:  

Celiac Disease Program: We use a team approach to care for patients with gluten-related conditions. We are experts both at diagnosing celiac disease and distinguishing it from other gastrointestinal diseases that cause similar symptoms. If needed, we collaborate with subspecialists, such as those in endocrinology, rheumatology or neurology.

Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: At the UCLA Health Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, we incorporate the expertise of colorectal surgeons, hepatologists, registered dietitians and more. We understand that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can cause significant, unpredictable disruptions to your life. We use a comprehensive treatment approach with medications, diet changes and stress management.

Functional GI disorders: Gastrointestinal distress affects up to 20% of Americans. We offer a patient-centered approach that explores the brain-gut interaction. This approach helps us to better understand the causes of functional GI disorders, which include nausea, bloating, abdominal pain or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Integrative Digestive Health and Wellness Program: We take a holistic approach to your health, meaning we account for nutrition, stress and all other lifestyle factors that affect your well-being. Through the Integrative Digestive Health and Wellness Program, a team of gastroenterologists, GI nurse practitioners, mindfulness experts, registered dietitians and psychologists care for you. We use a range of dietary, behavioral and integrative health practices to help patients manage gastrointestinal disorders.

Nutrition Program: Food is more than just fuel. It is also about enjoyment, social connection and culture. When you receive a digestive disorder diagnosis, you may feel anxious or worried about limited food options. At UCLA Health, we offer nutrition counseling that helps you balance disease management with food enjoyment. 

Center for Obesity and METabolic Health (COMET)

COMET is one of the few centers in the United States where we actively research how to conquer the obesity epidemic. Our clinicians’ goal is to better understand obesity, as well as find new and additional treatment approaches. We offer both bariatric surgery and nonsurgical weight loss options.

Familial Mediterranean Fever Program

The Familial Mediterranean Fever Program is the only one of its kind in the United States. Familial Mediterranean fever is a rare genetic syndrome characterized by inflammatory attacks in your organ linings, such as in the abdomen and lungs. Left untreated, it can lead to severe organ damage.

We diagnose, treat and research familial Mediterranean fever. Each year, a team of gastroenterologists, immunologists, geneticists, nephrologists and others care for more than 700 patients from all over the world.

Fecal microbial transplant

Fecal microbial transplants are an alternative treatment for recurrent Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. C. diff is a germ that causes severe colitis and diarrhea. Patients who have repeat infections often struggle to find a treatment that works.

Fecal microbial transplants are a new and innovative procedure that places processed stool from a healthy donor into a patient’s GI tract. We are one of the only places in the region where patients can access this innovative treatment.

General gastroenterology

Through the Melvin and Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center at UCLA Health, we offer consultations and care for all types of gastroenterological concerns. Conditions such as chronic constipation, gallstones, hemorrhoids and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) account for millions of office visits each year.

Because many of these condition’s symptoms are similar, it takes an expert provider to diagnose them accurately. Our board-certified, highly trained experts use advanced technology and minimally invasive procedures to offer expert treatment.

Hepatology Program

Hepatology is the field of medicine that studies diseases of the liver and other related organs. The UCLA Health Hepatology Program is an essential part of the Pfleger Liver Institute and Asian Liver Center.

Our hepatologists, surgeons and radiologists are some of the most experienced in the country. We have a renowned liver transplant program and also treat a range of both common and rare liver conditions.

Interventional endoscopy

Interventional endoscopy is a branch of gastroenterology where specialists use a thin, flexible scope (endoscope) to evaluate the digestive tract. Using endoscopic techniques promotes better outcomes, lower complication rates and faster recovery times. We might use interventional endoscopy to remove GI blockages, treat acid reflux or perform weight loss surgery.

Motility Program

GI motility disorders occur when the muscles or nerves in your digestive tract don’t work the way they should. At UCLA Health, the experts in the Motility Program include gastroenterologists, dietitians, psychologists and more. We use a holistic approach to help you manage symptoms and live a full, productive life with a motility condition.

Pancreaticobiliary diseases

We work closely with the surgery team to treat patients with pancreaticobiliary diseases (diseases that affect the pancreas, gall bladder or bile ducts). In particular, we have a national reputation for excellence in treating pancreatic cancer. We use state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment approaches to offer patients gold-standard care.

Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health

Patients from all over the country and world come to our center. Our clinicians diagnose, treat and research all types of esophageal diseases, including rare and complex conditions. We use a patient-centered approach that incorporates the expertise of multiple specialists. Our team includes registered dietitians, GI health psychologists and integrative health practitioners.

GI conditions we treat

Our team treats a vast range of gastroenterological conditions. Some of the most common GI disorders we treat include:

Celiac disease: An immune disease that causes severe intestinal reactions to gluten.

Constipation: When a person has difficult or infrequent bowel movements.

Crohn’s disease: A type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes chronic inflammation in your digestive tract.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Also called spastic colon, a chronic disorder of the large intestine that causes abdominal pain, bloating, gas and digestive problems.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Also called acid reflux, GERD affects the muscle between the esophagus and stomach and causes stomach acid or bile to irritate the esophagus. 

Lactose intolerance: An inability to digest lactose (the sugar in dairy products).

Ulcerative colitis: A type of IBD that leads to inflammation and sores in the digestive tract, specifically the colon and rectum.

Gastroenterology tests and procedures we offer

Often, gastroenterologists are crucial members of your diagnostic team. We use many tests and procedures to diagnose and treat GI conditions. Some of the most common tests include:

General gastrointestinal screenings

These screening tests evaluate your GI tract for abnormal cells or signs of disease. Common screenings include:  

Colonoscopy: This examination of the bowel checks for abnormalities or changes such as growths in your intestinal lining (polyps). It is one of the most important procedures for detecting colorectal cancer.   

Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): This colon cancer screening tests a stool sample for hidden blood. People can complete the FIT test at home and don’t have to complete a bowel prep beforehand.

Sigmoidoscopy: This test is an examination of the rectum and the lower portion of the large intestine (sigmoid colon). It helps your provider check for polyps, ulcers (sores) or other irregular cells.  

Upper GI endoscopy: This exam evaluates the stomach, esophagus and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum). We may use this test to diagnose the cause of abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing or gastrointestinal bleeding.

Tests for GI motility disorders

We use the latest, most advanced technology to detect and diagnose motility disorders. Tests include: 

Anorectal manometry: This test evaluates the nerves in your rectum and anal sphincters. We might use it to diagnose causes of constipation, incontinence or intestinal blockages.

Esophageal motility tests: We use this exam to evaluate the pressure and muscle contractions in your esophagus (the tube that runs from your throat to your stomach).  

Wireless capsule (SmartPill™): During this test, you swallow a safe, pill-sized device that measures temperature, pressure and pH in your GI tract. We may use this option to diagnose when your stomach doesn’t empty food as soon as it should, constipation or small bowel motor dysfunction.

Imaging

When trying to find the root cause of a GI condition, we may use imaging tests. Some of the most common options include:  

Abdominal ultrasound: This imaging procedure uses ultrasound waves to view the abdominal organs, including the liver, spleen, pancreas and kidneys.  

Barium enema: This test uses X-rays and a special substance called barium, which coats the lower GI tract. Barium appears white on X-ray images, giving your provider a clear view of the size, shape and lining of your colon.

MRI: This diagnostic test uses radio waves and powerful magnets to take pictures of the inside of your body.

Pelvic CT scan: CT scans use multiple X-rays to construct pictures of the internal organs. A pelvic CT evaluates the organs in the pelvis, such as the gall bladder, pancreas, bladder or liver.

Our expert team

The gastroenterology team includes specialists who are national and international leaders in clinical care, research and education. We offer a range of subspecialty programs, as well as management of general gastrointestinal conditions. 

Contact us

Call 310-825-2631 to request an appointment with a gastroenterologist at UCLA Health.