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Innovation, Integration Delivering Results for First Patients in New GI Lab at St. Clair Health
By Nancy Kennedy

On the sixth floor of Dunlap Family Outpatient Center, St. Clair Health’s new facility, a state-of-the-art GI Lab is easing the experience of diagnostic testing for patients undergoing colonoscopy, gastroscopy, endoscopic ultrasounds, manometry and other studies. The Jack B. Piatt Center for Surgery and Endoscopy includes six suites where procedures are performed by St. Clair’s Gastroenterologists and Colorectal Surgeons, including Mark A. Cedar, D.O., a board-certified Gastroenterologist, Chief of Gastroenterology and Director of the GI Lab at St. Clair.

Paul Shaw, 66, of Carnegie, was one of the first patients to experience a diagnostic procedure in the new GI Lab. The retired former manager of a convenience store, Shaw has been receiving treatment from Dr. Cedar for gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and colorectal cancer screenings for the past ten years. GERD, also called acid reflux, is a common condition that can cause chest or abdominal pain, cough, trouble swallowing and heartburn-like symptoms. “Chronic GERD can advance to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, especially if the GERD has been untreated. Reflux most commonly occurs nocturnally, so the patient may not experience frequent heartburn,” Dr. Cedar explains. “In a person with Barrett’s esophagus, pre-cancer cells replace the lining of the lower esophagus. These cells can advance to dysplasia and eventually cancer. Typically, Barrett’s produces no symptoms – the only way to make the diagnosis is with endoscopy.”

Paul Shaw’s Barrett’s condition was initially diagnosed by Dr. Cedar in 2018 via a test called an esophagealgastroduodenoscopy, or EGD. An EGD is an outpatient procedure performed under light sedation. During an EGD, the gastroenterologist can examine the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. “Despite appropriate surveillance, Mr. Shaw’s Barrett’s had advanced to dysplasia, found via EGD in 2018,” Dr. Cedar explains. “I treated it with a special procedure named radiofrequency ablation, or RFA, which completely eradicated the Barrett’s tissue. This was confirmed by a follow-up EGD. Fifteen or so years ago, before RFA was available, a patient with Barrett’s that progressed to dysplasia, particularly high grade dysplasia, would have been sent for surgery to remove the lower esophagus. This was a major surgery with significant morbidity."

Mr. Shaw’s GERD treatment included reflux medications and dietary modifications. On June 23, 2021, Dr. Cedar performed another follow-up EGD on him, along with colonoscopy and polyp removal, at the GI Lab. “No Barrett’s tissue was seen,” Shaw recalls. “I felt fine after the procedure. Dr. Cedar took good care of me and I recommend him.” Shaw and his wife Mary Ellen were both favorably impressed with the Dunlap Family Outpatient Center: “Dunlap is clean, spacious and comfortable. I was nervous at first about going to an unfamiliar place, but it was easy to get around. Everything went perfectly.”

Dr. Cedar is equally pleased with the new facility: “The GI Lab on the sixth floor is a beautiful space. It’s a great improvement. One of the best features is the extraordinary privacy for patients and families; they remain in their own room, both pre- and post-op. This level of privacy is important because patients are likely to experience either great relief or occasionally shock when we speak to them post operatively. It can be very emotional and it’s not an experience to share with strangers.

“Dunlap Family Outpatient Center is extremely well organized. I and many of the gastroenterologists and surgeons had input into that, in meetings with the architects and administration. The building is impressive looking and is attached to the hospital. This is a great benefit for the staff, to be able to quickly walk to the hospital and back.”

Dr. Cedar is a Pittsburgh native who graduated from Brentwood High School and received his Bachelor of Science degree at Grove City College. He earned his medical degree from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1998. Dr. Cedar is a partner in Pittsburgh Gastroenterology Associates and South Hills Endoscopy in Upper St. Clair. He lives in the South Hills with his wife, Dr. Maria Cirillo, and two children. In his spare time he enjoys golfing, skiing and fishing but most of all spending time with his family.

To learn more about Dunlap Family Outpatient Center or to schedule an appointment, visit www.stclair.org

To learn more about Dr. Cedar and Pittsburgh Gastroenterology Associates, visit www.pghgastro.com. To make an appointment, call 412-232-8014.



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