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Virginia Hospital Center has been at the forefront of gastroenterology—the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the digestive tract, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts—throughout its history. Ours was the first hospital in Northern Virginia to offer capsule endoscopy and remains a leader in delivering high-tech services.

Benefits of the Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Center

  • Private rooms for patients and families
  • State-of-the-art technology
  • Highly trained staff of eighteen registered nurses, ten GI technicians, and fourteen physician specialists
  • Both a GI technician and a registered nurse are required to be present at every procedure
  • Convenient location with easy parking access
  • Consistently high scores in patient satisfaction surveys

Diagnosis and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Diseases

To learn more about the procedures offered at the Hospital's Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Center (GI Unit), please click on the links below.

Capsule Endoscopy

Capsule Endoscopy diagnoses diseases in the small intestine.
Visualizing the winding, complex 15 feet of the small intestine which connect the stomach to the colon has been notoriously difficult. Although diagnostic methods such as barium x-rays and endoscopy can be helpful, Virginia Hospital Center became the first healthcare facility in Northern Virginia to offer a new, effective and rather an unusual way to detect and diagnose inflammatory diseases, GI tract tumors, unexplained bleeding and other problems. It's called capsule endoscopy. It's a painless, non-invasive procedure that requires no anesthesia. And all the patient has to do is swallow.
The capsule in capsule endoscopy is a wireless probe the size of a large vitamin. This amazing device contains a tiny camera, light source, battery, antenna and radio transmitter. As it winds its way through the small intestine, the capsule sends video images to a half-dozen external sensors affixed to the patient's abdomen; those images are recorded by a device the size of a Walkman, worn on a waistband or belt, and later downloaded to a computer for analysis. The capsule itself is made of materials which will pass naturally from the digestive system.


Colonoscopy is the gold standard in screening for colon cancer.

The gold standard in screening and diagnosis of colon cancer, colonoscopy represents one of the most important advances in gastroenterology in recent years. Colonoscopy not only allows physicians to see the entire colon (large intestine) but also provides the opportunity to potentially remove precancerous polyps before they can become malignant, and take biopsies of any lesions detected. The value of colonoscopy is so widely recognized today that most health insurers now cover the cost of colorectal cancer screenings utilizing this procedure.
At Virginia Hospital Center, the use of the magnifying colonoscope further enhances the precision of this important procedure by providing even higher levels of visualization and resolution, enabling even earlier detection of colorectal cancer.
Our qualified technicians and nurses constantly monitor patients throughout the procedure and recovery, which is why Virginia Hospital Center has excellent rates of safety in colonoscopy. The procedure takes just 20 to 30 minutes in most cases. Colonoscopy patients receive IV sedation to ensure their complete comfort; in fact, most patients sleep through the procedure.
Should your physician choose to take samples for biopsy, Virginia Hospital Center makes every effort to return results to your doctor within 48 hours, because we understand that when it comes to your health, the waiting can be the hardest part.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Information Kit

EGD - Upper Endoscopy

Upper Endoscopy (EGD) - a screening of the upper GI tract for diseases and disorders such as chronic heartburn (acid reflux) and Barrett's Esophagus (a precancerous condition caused by chronic acid reflux).

Just as colonoscopy is the benchmark for colorectal diagnosis, EGD or upper endoscopy is the standard for diagnosing diseases and disorders of the upper GI tract, such as peptic ulcer, chronic heartburn (acid reflux) and internal bleeding. EGD allows the visualization of the entire upper gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
EGD is the only test available for diagnosing a disorder called Barrett's Esophagus, a precancerous condition caused by chronic acid reflux that can lead to esophageal cancer if not detected and treated in its early stages. EGD also has therapeutic applications, allowing the treatment of bleeding ulcers during the procedure, which can help patients avoid surgery. In addition, EDG can detect the presence of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium implicated in the cause of some gastric ulcers.
Virginia Hospital Center also offers the latest advances in endoscopic procedures. Magnifying endoscopy provides physicians with higher resolution, full-screen images, which allows even more precise diagnosis of upper GI problems.
As with colonoscopy, most patients undergoing this five-to-ten minute procedure receive mild, safe IV sedation to ensure their comfort. And all procedures are fully monitored by qualified GI technicians and RNs.

Endoscopic Retrograde (ERCP)

The practice of gastroenterology not only involves diagnosing and treating illnesses of the esophagus, stomach, and colon but also includes treating patients for illness in the pancreas, gall bladder, liver and their ducts.

Endoscopic Retrograde (ERCP)—a procedure that enables visualization of the biliary ducts to screen for and diagnose both tumors and stones. The procedure can also be used to remove stones that have lodged in the common bile duct, and to place stents—small metal inserts—which will keep ducts open and functioning.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

This five-to-ten minute procedure allows physicians to see the lower colon and rectum and is particularly useful in evaluating hemorrhoids and diagnosing causes of diarrhea. Once the standard screening test for colorectal cancer, flexible sigmoidoscopy has been supplanted by colonoscopy in that application but remains a fast, simple and useful diagnostic tool. No sedation or anesthesia is required for this procedure.

24-hour Monitoring for Acid Reflux & Esophageal Motility

During these procedures physicians correlate the patient's recorded observations with the results of the pH monitor, to determine how fluctuations in acidity relate to symptoms and monitor swallowing problems and atypical chest pain. It helps physicians diagnose the causes of chronic heartburn and/or swallowing difficulties, and are often used in conjunction with diagnosing acid reflux and developing treatment plans.
The esophageal motility study is a 30 to 45-minute procedure that measures pressure and muscle tone in the esophagus by means of a probe. Similarly, a small probe is inserted into the esophagus to allow monitoring of pH levels—the measure of acidity—for 24 hours. Patients wear a device called a digitrapper through which they record incidents of heartburn, chest pain, and other symptoms. When the monitoring period is over, physicians correlate the patient’s recorded observations with the results of the pH monitor, to determine how fluctuations in acidity relate to symptoms. Neither of these tests requires anesthesia or sedation.

Heartburn Center —
Where can I go to get help for my Heartburn/GERD?

The new Heartburn Center at Virginia Hospital Center offers two studies to assess gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and optimal courses of treatment.
Read more


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