Pediatric Motility and Neurogastroenterology Center

Some of our body’s most complex and fragile organs are in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract such as the:

  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Small and large intestines
  • Rectum and anus

Each of these organs has nerves and muscles that make distinct movements to help digest food and remove waste from the body. When these nerves and muscles get damaged or don't work together, it can cause a GI motility disorder.

These disorders cause digestion issues. And the symptoms can be painful and embarrassing.

If you think your child has a GI motility disorder, we can help.

Our experts at the Pediatric Motility and Neurogastroenterology Center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh:

  • Focus on the link between GI motility disorders and health problems in other parts of the body.
  • Use advanced testing to diagnose GI problems in infants, children, and teens.
  • Offer the latest treatments for complex, hard-to-treat, and recurring digestive disorders.

Our goal is to help your child find relief and a greater quality of life.

GI Motility Disorder Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of GI motility disorders can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Swallowing problems

Tests we use to diagnose GI motility disorders

At UPMC Children’s Hospital, we use the latest technology to help diagnose your child’s chronic or treatment-resistant GI problem.

We use minimally invasive or non-invasive tests as much as we can.

Tests your child may need include:

  • Anorectal, antroduodenal, colonic, and esophageal manometry — to check the motility of the GI tract.
  • Esophageal pH/impedance testing — to look for the presence of gastric reflux.
  • Nuclear medicine studies — to assess the function and structure of the GI tract.
  • X-rays of the GI tract.

GI Motility Disorders We Treat at UPMC Children's Hospital

Some GI motility disorders we treat are:

  • Aerodigestive disorders — breathing and swallowing problems of the upper and lower airways, and upper digestive tract.
  • Anorectal malformations — a birth defect that occurs when the rectum fails to break through tissue and create the anal opening.
  • Colonic dysmotility — marked by constipation or diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
  • Dysphagia and achalasia — swallowing issues.
  • Fecal incontinence (encopresis) — not able to control bowel movements, often caused by chronic constipation.
  • Functional GI disorders — unexplained digestive health issues.
  • Gastroparesis — a delay in emptying food in the stomach because nerves that are damaged or not working.
  • Hirschsprung's disease — a birth defect affecting the nerve cells in the muscles that push food and waste through the large intestine.
  • Intestinal pseudo-obstruction — a condition in which there are symptoms of intestinal blockage, but none exists.
  • Rumination disorder — not able to control spitting-up undigested or partly digested food from the stomach.
  • Severe intractable constipation — stomach bloating and bowel problems that don't respond to standard treatments.

Treatments for GI Motility Disorders

Working with other children's health experts, we offer promising new therapies to treat your child's GI motility problem.

Treatments include:

  • Neuromodulation therapy — uses low-level electrical stimulation.
  • BOTOX® injection — can help symptoms including constipation and gastroparesis.

We offer motility testing as a part of pre- and post-small bowel transplant assessments.

Why Choose the Motility and Neurogastroenterology Center for Your Child's Care?

Our center:

  • Brings together doctors from many fields who work with you to create the most effective care plan for your child.
  • Is part of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at UPMC Children's Hospital — consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Is one of only two pediatric GI motility centers in Pennsylvania — and among fewer than 15 programs nationwide.

GI Disorder Referrals and Insurance Requirements at UPMC Children's Hospital

Before we can make your child's appointment, we need:

  • A referral from your child's managing gastroenterologist or other subspecialist.
  • Advance approval from your health insurer for most GI motility evaluations and treatment. If you have a managed care plan, you may need approvals from both your insurance and your child’s doctor.

We must receive all referral and insurance approval forms before your child's first visit.

To learn more or request provider numbers, call 412-692-5180.

We are located on the third floor of UPMC Children's in Lawrenceville.