KMC Gastroenterology Adds Newest Technology for Patient Benefit

By: Sarah Gooding
Friday, April 8, 2016

Patient care is at the forefront of each decision made by the staff of Kansas Medical Clinic, PA, and KMC’s Topeka-based Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Center has adopted the practice of providing patients with the best care and treatment that medical technology can offer.

“The goal of KMC Gastroenterology is to be at the forefront of all GI services for Kansas residents,” says Shekhar Challa, MD. “We are proud to say that we continue to be at the front end of any change and innovation in the field of gastroenterology.”

Dr. Challa and Balaji Datti, MD, along with the KMC GI team of nurse practitioners Laura Welborn, Traci Hoffman, Jayda Rupp and Susan Lueger, keep an eye on new procedures and are among the leaders in providing their northeast Kansas patients with options such as ORBERA for weight loss, FibroScan for liver diagnosis and anal manometry for constipation and diarrhea.

Lasting Presence

Kansas Medical Clinic, PA, was started by Dr. Challa, Ashram Sufi, MD, and Jerry Feagan, MD, and has expanded over the years with a number of specialty clinics throughout northeast Kansas, including the gastroenterology and endoscopy center in Topeka, dermatology clinics in five locations, a pathology lab, two medical spas, and plastic surgery.

KMC-Group 750
The clinical staff at KMC Gastroenterology includes, from left, Susan Lueger, APRN-C; Balaji Datti, MD; Jayda Rupp, APRN; Shekhar Challa, MD; and Laura Welborn, APRN-C.

The multispecialty group of healthcare providers is continually on the lookout for opportunities to provide cutting-edge services and opportunities for patients, who come from northeast Kansas and beyond.

One thing that has remained constant throughout the years is the organization’s commitment to patient care.

“I have been in Topeka for 29 years, and in that time I have been involved in many new and innovative changes,” Dr. Challa says. “We are at the leading edge of technology. We are able to diagnose and treat many conditions more easily and quickly to get patients on the road to recovery.”

Commitment to Innovation

This is particularly true within the Gastroenterology practice.

KMC GI prides itself on being the first in the region, and sometimes in the state, to bring to market a number of procedures, including EGD/Bravo to evaluate the severity of GERD, HALO ablation for Barrett’s esophagus with dysplasia, SmartPill motility monitoring system for suspected gastroparesis and FibroScan to assess liver health.

“I have been in Topeka for 29 years, and in that time I have been involved in many new and innovative changes. We are at the leading edge of technology. We are able to diagnose and treat many conditions more easily and quickly to get patients on the road to recovery.”
— Shekhar Challa, MD

While Dr. Challa and Dr. Datti offer traditional EGD, colonoscopies, esophageal dilations, ERCP, PEG and more, they also aggressively seek out technology to provide quality diagnostics and procedures in less invasive ways or with lower levels of patient discomfort.

Laura Welborn, APRN-C, says the organization’s commitment to utilizing the best technology and treatments available has paid off with regard to hepatitis C, for which new treatment options have produced remarkable results.

“I have seen hepatitis C response rates with treatment improve from 50 percent 15 years ago to 95–100 percent now using the new medications,” Welborn says.

Liver Health ‘Game Changer’

The clinic’s 2014 addition of FibroScan, which could replace traditional needle biopsies of the liver up to 90 percent of the time, is one example. Instead of a 6-inch needle being used to extract a tissue sample, the FibroScan evaluates liver health by using a probe placed against gel-covered skin to send vibrations into the liver and measure how long it takes the vibrations to travel through the organ.

KMC-Dr Datti With Patient 750
Dr. Datti shows a patient the GI system at KMC Gastroenterology.

“Before, to assess liver disease, you had to do a biopsy, but nine out of 10 times you can do it with a liver scan,” Dr. Challa says.

Two years later, KMC Gastroenterology remains one of the only practices in the region offering FibroScan.

“The technology is very expensive, and hardly anyone wants to buy it,” Dr. Challa says. “We are the only privately owned GI group in the state of Kansas to have a FibroScan, so we have a lot of patients coming from all over.”

Dr. Challa says insurance also has been slow to respond with reimbursements, but KMC’s dedication to patients outweighs the money in this instance.

“Because it’s a game changer and a special service, we want to give it to our patients even if the reimbursement is minimal,” he says. “We have a commitment to be at the front end of care.”

Weight-loss Alternative

That commitment is ongoing, with the practice offering the ORBERA Intragastric Balloon in spring of 2016.

“The obesity epidemic continues to grow, and for the very obese, there are surgeries,” Dr. Challa says.

However, options are less prevalent for patients with a body mass index of 30 to 40, and Dr. Challa says moderately obese adults who have tried more conservative weight-reduction alternatives may find ORBERA promising.

“Basically, it’s a soft yet durable silicone balloon that fills a patient’s stomach to reinforce proper portion control,” Dr. Challa says.

The deflated balloon is placed in the patient’s stomach in a nonsurgical procedure performed under a mild sedative, and the balloon is then filled with saline until it’s about the size of a grapefruit. A 12-month coaching program begins, helping the patient make dietary and lifestyle changes, and at six months, the balloon is removed, while coaching continues.

Advances in Bowel Health

KMC is also preparing to add anal manometry as a diagnostic tool to point physicians toward treatment options for a number of different bowel concerns.

KMC-Dr Challa With Patient 750
Shekhar Challa, MD, was a founding partner in Kansas Medical Clinic, PA, and is a board-certified gastroenterologist.

“At KMC, we provide comprehensive, top-to-bottom care for gastrointestinal problems,” Dr. Datti says. “We soon will be providing anal manometry to help with problems like constipation, diarrhea and stool leakage.”

The test will help provide data about the conditions causing these problematic symptoms.

“Anorectal manometry is utilized to assess neuromuscular function,” says Traci Hoffman, APRN. “This test will evaluate the sphincter’s strength and relaxation, rectal pressure, and rectal sensation. It is helpful in assessing certain conditions, such as pelvic floor dyssynergia, Hirschsprung’s disease and fecal incontinence.”

Dr. Challa says the additions and advances make a tremendous difference in the lives of patients.

“It makes good business sense to be the leader in anything new,” he says. “That’s obviously one thing. We want our patients to have access to anything out there as it comes up.”

Patient-friendly Practices

Despite its popularity, the practice also works to remain accessible by keeping appointment slots open each week so patients with concerns can promptly schedule a visit with a medical professional.

“As a practice, the goal is to put patients first. We go beyond the surface for our patients by providing the best customer service possible,” says Sarah Legg, Marketing Director for Kansas Medical Clinic, PA. “One way we do this is through same-week appointments. We don’t want our patients to wait weeks to see a physician or nurse practitioner for an issue that is bothering them now.”

For further information about Kansas Medical Clinic and the Gastroenterology practice, please visit Appointments may be requested online, and the Gastroenterology practice can be reached at 785-354-8518. Additional information about Dr. Challa is available at