Our pediatric surgery team includes specialists who treat gastrointestinal conditions that affect organs from the esophagus to the appendix, with the rest of the digestive system in between. Here is a list of some of the conditions and surgical services offered by the pediatric surgery specialists:

Surgical Procedures:

  • Anoplasty
  • Colectomy
  • Duhamel procedure
  • Enterectomy
  • Heller myotomy (to treat esophageal achalasia)
  • Ileostomy J-pouch pull through colon polyps
  • Pena procedure
  • Posterior sagittal anorectoplasty (PSARP)
  • Removal of small intestine
  • Removal of fistula
  • Soave procedure
  • Swenson procedure

The Digestive System: An Overview

What is digestion?

Food and drink must be changed into smaller molecules of nutrients to be absorbed into the blood and carried to cells throughout the body. Digestion is the process by which food and liquid are broken down into smaller parts so that the body can use them to build and nourish cells, and to provide energy.

How does the digestive process work?

Digestion involves:

  • The mixing of food.

  • The movement of food through the digestive tract.

  • A chemical breakdown of large molecules of food into smaller molecules.

Digestion begins in the mouth, where food and liquids are taken in, and is completed in the small intestine.

What is included in the digestive system?

The digestive system is made up of the digestive tract and other organs that aid in digestion.

The digestive tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus, consisting of the following:

  • Mouth

  • Esophagus

  • Stomach

  • Small intestine

  • Large intestine (includes the colon and rectum)

  • Anus

Organs that help with digestion, but are not part of the digestive tract, include the following:

  • Tongue

  • Glands in the mouth that make saliva

  • Pancreas

  • Liver

  • Gallbladder

Parts of other organ systems, such as nerves and blood, also play a major role in the digestive process.

How does food move through the digestive system?

In a wave-like movement, called peristalsis, muscles propel food and liquid along the digestive tract. In general, there are six steps in the process of moving food and liquid through the digestive system:

  1. The first major muscle movement is swallowing food or liquid. The start of swallowing is voluntary, but once it begins, the process becomes involuntary and continues under the control of the nerves.

  2. The esophagus, which connects the throat above with the stomach below, is the first organ into which the swallowed food goes.

  3. Where the esophagus and stomach join, there is a ring-like valve that closes the passage between the two organs. When food nears the closed ring, the surrounding muscles relax and allow the food to pass into the stomach, and then it closes again.

  4. The food then enters the stomach, which completes three mechanical tasks: stores, mixes, and empties:

    • First, the stomach stores the swallowed food and liquid, which requires the muscle of the upper part of the stomach to relax and accept large volumes of swallowed material.

    • Second, the lower part of the stomach mixes up the food, liquid, and digestive juices produced by the stomach by muscle action.

    • Third, the stomach empties the contents into the small intestine.

  5. The food is digested in the small intestine and dissolved by the juices from the pancreas, liver, and intestine, and the contents of the intestine are mixed and pushed forward to allow further digestion.

  6. Last, the digested nutrients are absorbed through the intestinal walls. The waste products, including undigested parts of the food, known as fiber, and older cells that have been shed from the mucosa, move into the colon. Waste products usually in the colon remain for a day or two until the feces are expelled by a bowel movement.

Digestive and Liver Disorders Overview

What is digestion?

Food and drink must be changed into smaller molecules of nutrients to be absorbed into the blood and carried to cells throughout the body. Digestion is the process by which food and drink are broken down into smaller parts so that the body can use them to build and nourish cells, and to provide energy.

How does the digestive process work?

Digestion involves:

  • The mixing of food with digestive juices

  • The movement of food through the digestive tract

  • A chemical breakdown of large molecules of food into smaller molecules so the body can use them to nourish cells and provide energy

Digestion begins in the mouth, where food and drink is taken in, and is completed in the small intestine.

What is included in the digestive system?

The digestive tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus, consisting of the following:

  • Mouth

  • Esophagus

  • Stomach

  • Small intestine

  • Large intestine

  • Rectum

  • Anus

Organs that help with digestion, but are not part of the digestive tract, include the following:

  • Tongue

  • Glands in the mouth that make saliva

  • Pancreas

  • Liver

  • Gallbladder

Parts of other organ systems, like nerves and blood, also play a major role in the digestive process.

How does food move through the digestive system?

In a wave-like movement, called peristalsis, muscles propel food and liquid along the digestive tract.

What changes occur in the digestive system during pregnancy?

Hormones of pregnancy can affect the digestive system. The hormone progesterone, which causes smooth muscle relaxation, often causes relaxation and slowing of digestion in the stomach and the small and large intestines. The gallbladder is also affected with delayed emptying that can increase the chances of gallstone formation. Many of the digestive discomforts of pregnancy, such as morning sickness (nausea or vomiting), constipation, and heartburn are all related to the relaxed tone and slowed action of the digestive system.

The growing uterus itself can affect the digestive system. As the uterus grows, it can press on or even block parts of the digestive tract. This can lead to slowed movement of food and constipation. Increasing fluids, regular exercise, and increasing the fiber in your diet are some of the ways to prevent constipation. Always consult your health care provider before taking any medication for this condition.

Many women have appetite changes in pregnancy, including increased hunger, decreased appetite, cravings, aversions, nausea, and vomiting. A few women develop pica, a rare craving to eat substances other than food, such as dirt, clay, or coal. The craving may indicate a nutritional deficiency.

Douglas C. Barnhart, M.D., M.S.P.H.

Dr. Douglas Barnhart’s daily clinical practice includes all common pediatric surgical problems including inguinal hernias, undescended testicles, hydroceles and feeding access (gastrostomy tube placement). He has a particular interest in minimal access surgery including the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux,... Read More

Specialties:

Pediatric Surgery, Pediatric Trauma Surgery

Locations:

Rock Canyon Pediatric Specialists - Intermountain Clinics (801) 357-1700
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-2950
Pediatric Surgery (801) 662-2950

Richard E. Black, M.D.

Dr. Richard E. Black’s clinical interests include all aspects of pediatric surgery. He has special interests in chest wall repair, foreign body extraction, gastroschisis, omphalocele, and pediatric trauma. He has over 30 years experience in inguinal hernias, appendectomies, inflammatory bowel disease and congeni... Read More

Specialties:

Pediatric Surgery, Pediatric Trauma Surgery

Locations:

Rock Canyon Pediatric Specialists - Intermountain Clinics (801) 357-1700
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-2950
Primary Children's Hospital (801) 662-2950

Earl C. Downey, M.D.

Dr. Downey has over 25 years of experience in pediatric surgery and pediatric trauma. He has special expertise in minimally invasive surgery and gastroesophageal reflux disease

Dr. Downey specializes in the follow... Read More

Specialties:

Pediatric Surgery, Pediatric Trauma Surgery

Locations:

Rock Canyon Pediatric Specialists - Intermountain Clinics (801) 357-1700
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-2950
Primary Children's Hospital (801) 662-2950

Stephen J. Fenton, M.D.

Dr. Stephen Fenton is an attending surgeon in the Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic, and Neonatal Surgery at Primary Children’s Hospital. He is also an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Prior to his training in pediatric surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Phi... Read More

Specialties:

Pediatric Surgery

Locations:

Rock Canyon Pediatrics Specialist - Intermountain Health Services (801) 357-1700
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-2950
Primary Children's Hospital (801) 662-2950

Rebecka L. Meyers, M.D.

Dr. Rebecka Meyers, an international expert in hepatoblastoma and liver tumors, clinically specializes in pediatric surgical oncology, pectus excavatum, and conjoined twins. She served as Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery from 2001-2011 and is a recognized leader in the field of pediatric surgery. <... Read More

Specialties:

Pediatric Surgery, Pediatric Trauma Surgery

Locations:

Rock Canyon Pediatric Specialists - Intermountain Clinics (801) 357-1700
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-2950
Primary Children's Hospital (801) 662-2950

Michael D. Rollins, II, M.D.

Dr. Rollins is a board certified Pediatric Surgeon with expertise in the treatment of patients with imperforate anus and Hirschsprung’s disease. He is the founder and director of the Pediatric Colorectal Center at Primary Children's Medical Center. The focus of the Center is on the multidisciplinary care and l... Read More

Specialties:

Pediatric Surgery, Pediatric Trauma Surgery

Locations:

Rock Canyon Pediatrics Specialists - Intermountain Health Services (801) 357-1700
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-2950
Colorectal Center (801) 662-1619
Pediatric Surgery (801) 662-2950

Eric R. Scaife, M.D.

Dr. Eric R. Scaife clinical interests include all aspects of Pediatric Surgery including common issues as inguinal hernia, umbilical hernia, hydrocele, undescended testicle. His specialty referrals include gastroesophageal reflux disease, chest wall deformities (pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum), Inflammat... Read More

Specialties:

Pediatric Surgery, Pediatric Trauma Surgery

Locations:

Rock Canyon Pediatric Specialists - Intermountain Clinics (801) 357-1700
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-2950
Primary Children's Hospital (801) 662-2950

David E. Skarda, M.D.

David E. Skarda, M.D. has specialized training and experience in minimally invasive surgical treatment for babies, children and teenagers. He is a board certified pediatric surgeon and attending physician in the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Primary Children’s Medical Center. His passion is providing leading ... Read More

Specialties:

Pediatric Surgery, Pediatric Trauma Surgery

Locations:

Rock Canyon Pediatrics Specialist - Intermountain Health Services (801) 357-1700
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 662-2950
Pediatric Surgery (801) 662-2950
Primary Children's Hospital 100 North Mario Capecchi Dr., Ste 2600
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Map
(801) 662-2950
Riverton Clinic/Primary Children’s Outpatient Clinic 3773 West 12600 South Ste. 300
Riverton, UT 84065
Map
(801) 662-2950
Rock Canyon Pediatric Specialists 1134 North 500 West, Ste. 101
Provo, Utah 84604
Map
(801) 357-1700