Pediatric Gastroenterology

Our clinic doesn’t follow the trends, it sets them! GI for Kids is a patient-centered clinic offering pediatric gastrointestinal, hepatology and nutritional services. When a child says “my tummy hurts,” it can be a lot of different things. From intake to diagnosis and beyond, we work with patients and their families to treat GI illnesses, weight issues, mental-health challenges and much more.

Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is among the most common gastrointestinal disorders and can range from microscopic bleeding to massive bleeding leading to hypovolemia and shock. In children, GI bleeding requires prompt assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Two issues should be addressed immediately: the child’s appearance, mental status, blood pressure and heart rate, and the likelihood of ongoing bleeding. It is important to determine whether the bleeding is from an upper or lower GI source because this will help in the diagnosis and treatment.

Many things children eat can look like blood. Red food coloring found in foods like Jell-O or Kool Aid, as well as fruit juices and beets may resemble blood, if vomited. Melena may be confused with dark or black stool from iron supplementation, bismuth subsalicylate, dark chocolate, grape juice, spinach, cranberries, or blueberries. A simple Hematest performed at the bedside can confirm presence of blood in gastric contents or in stools. In the neonate, the Apt test will differentiate maternal from infant blood.

An upper or lower endoscopy can be used to evaluate GI bleeding and is the procedure of choice for a diagnosis; and sometimes used in emergency cases. Where endoscopy is non-diagnostic, a bleeding scan, Mickel’s Diverticulum Scan, Capsule Endoscopy or Angiogram can be used. We have a state of the art endoscopy suite located at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital that is supported by multiple pediatric specialists that include surgeons, anesthesiologists, intensive care specialists, radiologists, hematologists, and other specialists on call, as needed, to help our team manage and care for these patients.