Reassuring Remedy: Caring for digestive conditions is all in a day’s work for a local gastroenterologist.
A local gastroenterologist makes what would typically be a very uncomfortable trip to the doctor’s office one that’s actually quite relaxed. That’s because Dr. Vernon J. Carriere, Jr., who began practicing at Metairie Gastroenterology in June 2012, seeks to form relationships with his patients. “The physicians here focus on making all interactions with patients pleasurable,” he says. “We’re up-to-date with disease processes, and we enjoy caring for patients … most of whom recommend us to others. Our goal is to make patients feel comfortable with gastroenterology disorders.”
ABOUT MY PRACTICE
Who are your patients? What kinds of conditions do they come to you with?
One of the most common conditions we see is acid reflux. Patients typically complain of burning chest discomfort after meals. We usually prescribe acid reducing medications, and make recommendations on altering their diet and on weight loss.
One of the areas of medicine that gastroenterologists have made a major impact on is colon cancer. The guidelines recommend that everyone over the age of 50 (or age 45 for African Americans) get a colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy, we can remove polyps, and, based on the size and number of polyps, we usually recommend a repeat colonoscopy every three to 10 years [thereafter].
We also treat a large number of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). Ulcerative colitis affects the colon only, whereas Crohn’s disease can affect anywhere along the entire GI tract. If a patient with ulcerative colitis has progression of their disease and is not responding to medications, removing their entire colon is an option, but, unfortunately, there’s no cure for Crohn’s disease. We use a variety of medications to control both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Inflammatory bowel diseases are very interesting and challenging to care for but with a team approach, a successful outcome is often reached.
We also treat celiac disease, which is a disease where patients cannot tolerate gluten. Gluten is found in a large variety of foods, including wheat and grains. The small intestine becomes inflamed when exposed to gluten, and the patient experiences malabsorption of vitamins and nutrients. It can be difficult for a patient to avoid gluten, because gluten is in [almost] everything.
What non-surgical techniques are available for hemorrhoids?
We offer a non-surgical option for internal hemorrhoids. In the office with no prep, sedation or pain, we are able to place a rubber band on internal hemorrhoids. Patients with hemorrhoids often present with bleeding, itching and fecal leakage, and a large majority of patients respond very well to the banding procedure.
What does a typical day involve?
I typically do procedures in the morning and have clinic in the afternoon. Our main office is on the East Jefferson General Hospital campus, where we also do inpatient consults. I also have a clinic at St. Bernard Parish Hospital.
What drew you to gastroenterology?
I originally wanted to do surgery but really enjoyed my internal medicine rotation. Gastroenterology offered me the opportunity to develop a strong relationship with my patients while still being able to perform a variety of procedures.
Is there any medical advice you can offer in regards to staying healthy when it comes to the digestive system?
In general, eat a well balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables help to maintain a healthy digestive system. Probiotics are a hot topic right now, and there are a large variety of probiotics on the market that can help with bloating, gas and a variety of GI issues. It’s an interesting and evolving aspect [of the field].
Can you speak a little about your personal life and what you like to do in your free time?
My wife, Kristine, and I have three sons—Austin and Brady, who are twins (four years old), and Ryan, who is one year old. I enjoy football—I’m a New Orleans Saints fan and an LSU fan—and I enjoy jogging, and fishing for redfish and trout.
228 Houma Blvd., Metairie, LA 70006
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
I try to focus on the patient’s complaints. I think about what would be the best way to remedy [their issues], and, together, we come up with a plan. I give out information and allow the patient to research different options to see what they think. Many times, they come in well informed and educated, and, when the patient is involved in their healthcare, they are more likely to follow through and get better results.