Gastroenterology & GI Surgery

The Gastroenterology (GI) team partners with many programs and services at Phoenix Children’s to offer multidisciplinary clinics for children with more complex GI concerns. These clinics bring together providers from gastroenterology and other specialty areas to make sure children receive the care they need in one place. This efficient, thorough approach leads to well-coordinated treatment plans and means fewer trips to the doctor’s office.

Our multidisciplinary clinics include:

  • Aerodigestive Clinic: This clinic is the only one in southwest Arizona to provide coordinated care for children with complex swallowing, breathing and feeding conditions. Our team includes experts in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat diseases), gastroenterology and pulmonology (lung diseases).
  • Celiac Disease Clinic: This multidisciplinary clinic provides care to children with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which patients must strictly adhere to a gluten-free diet. 
  • Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Clinic: This clinic provides care for children with eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease (EGID), including eosinophilic esophagitis. The clinic brings together Phoenix Children’s gastroenterologists, allergists, immune disease specialists and nutritionists.
  • Foregut Clinic: In this clinic, GI specialists work with pediatric surgeons to care for patients with complex conditions of the esophagus, intestines and biliary system.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program: More than 500 children and adolescents rely on our IBD Program for leading-edge therapies, educational programs, support groups and research opportunities. We are committed to helping kids with IBD experience the best possible health and quality of life.
  • Motility Clinic: This clinic’s team of specialists cares for children with motility disorders, which cause spasms or lack of motion anywhere along the GI tract.
  • Short Bowel Syndrome Clinic: This clinic brings together GI specialists, pediatric surgeons and registered dietitians to care for patients with short bowl (sometimes called “short gut”) syndrome. 

Our team also participates in multidisciplinary clinics hosted by other specialty programs at Phoenix Children’s. These include:

  • Cystic Fibrosis Program: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease in which thick mucus is produced, which can cause a number of health problems and prevent normal digestion. Our gastroenterology team partners with the Cystic Fibrosis Program at Phoenix Children’s to care for digestive problems associated with CF.
  • Feeding Disorders Clinic: Our Feeding Disorders Clinic is a collaboration between the GI team and Phoenix Children’s acute inpatient rehabilitation program. It is the only medical program in Arizona providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for children with severe feeding disturbances.
  • Fontan Clinic: The multidisciplinary team within the hospital’s Fontan Clinic cares for patients with congenital heart disease who have undergone a Fontan procedure. Our focus is to improve long-term outcomes by evaluating patients for complications such as Fontan-associated liver disease (FALD).
  • Liver Transplant Program: Our gastroenterologists work in conjunction with hepatologists and transplant surgeons within our Liver Transplant Program to care for children in need of a liver transplant.

Treatments and Procedures

Phoenix Children’s offers comprehensive testing and treatment for GI conditions. Whenever possible, our providers use minimally invasive techniques instead of open surgeries which can lead to less anesthesia, less pain and faster healing. Our team specializes in therapeutic endoscopy, which combines:

The use of a thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light source on the end.

The use of X-ray and/or ultrasound, which provide detailed pictures of internal organs.

Instead of making an incision in the skin, the endoscopist guides the endoscope through a natural opening in the body such as the mouth, nose or anus. The endoscopist then can slide very small tools through the endoscope to diagnose or treat many GI problems. 

Some of our providers offer therapeutic endoscopy, a very specialized type of endoscopy. Therapeutic endoscopy can be used to diagnose and treat:

  • Narrowing in the esophagus or other parts of the GI tract
  • Conditions of the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas and pancreatic duct
  • Removal of polyps, which are growths in the GI tract that usually are not cancerous
  • Bleeding deep in the small intestine
  • Foreign bodies in the GI tract (such as a toy that the child swallowed)

Phoenix Children’s is one of only a few programs in the United States to offer these specialized services for children. This type of specialization is important because children have unique medical needs.