Physician’s Profile: Dr. Mark DeLegge
Guest: Dr. Mark DeLegge – Gastroenterology-Hepatology
Host: Dr. Linda Austin - Psychiatrist
Dr. Mark DeLegge: Hello. I am Mark DeLegge and I am Director of the Digestive Disease Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. I am a gastroenterologist, meaning, I take care of patients of with diseases of their colon, stomach esophagus. I have been practicing at the Medical University of South Carolina since 1999. I moved here from Charlotte, North Carolina and I currently living in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, which is a pleasant suburb just over the bridge from Charleston.
At the Digestive Disease Center, I do some administrative functions, meaning, I make sure that the whole place runs correctly. In addition to that, I am a gastroenterologist. My focus is on GI diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, pancreas disease. My subspecialty, that which I really have a love for, is in nutrition. I see patients who have complex nutrition problems. Perhaps they have a feeding tube in place or they are on IV nutrition, or they are having major problems with digestion or absorption.
A typical patient with a nutrition disorder could be one with a disease such as celiac disease. Celiac disease is a disease of the small intestine where there is some inflammation. When patients eat, the food goes in their mouth, they do not absorb it in the small intestine and then end up having a lot of diarrhea. So what happens is, you may be eating 2000-3000 calories a day but you are only actually absorbing, perhaps, 800-1000 calories, and these patients often lose weight.
Dr. Linda Austin: There must be some unusual causes of nutritional problems that you see also.
Dr. Mark DeLegge: There are a lot of unusual causes of nutrition problems that I see but a lot of common causes too. I mentioned celiac disease, which is an uncommon problem that affects absorption. I see patients who, perhaps, have had most of their small intestine removed because of Crohn’s disease and, therefore, do not have enough small intestine left to be able to absorb food by mouth. They are often on intravenous nutrition.
In addition to that, I see a lot of common problems. I see elderly patients who are losing weight because of depression. I see patients whose teeth are not in good shape and that may be affecting their ability to chew and swallow. I also see patients who, for whatever reason, think that they are eating too much and are trying to cut back and it is affecting their weight.
Patients at the other end of the spectrum are those patients who are eating too much. We know what happens when you eat too much. You end up gaining weight and you run into all the medical problems we see with obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and bone disease.
Dr. Linda Austin: How did you get interested in this area?
Dr. Mark DeLegge: I got interested in nutrition during my residency. That is a four-year program of training where I realized, at graduation, that I knew nothing about nutrition. As I was looking to do a fellowship, which is kind of specialty training in gastroenterology, meaning, learning to be a gastroenterologist. I looked specifically for a program that offered some additional training in nutrition and that is where I began my nutrition career.
Dr. Linda Austin: I would imagine that, as the medical director of the DDC, you must really provide leadership to stress the importance of nutrition for all the DDC practitioners.
Dr. Mark DeLegge: Yes. I do stress nutrition with all the physicians and practitioners in the DDC. Whenever you look at any GI disease, meaning, if you have a disease of the colon or the small intestine, perhaps you have a problem where you are seeing a surgeon or you have lost weight and you are about to go have major surgery performed, we know nutrition, and good nutrition, is important in all those arenas. So, we have really ratcheted up the importance of nutrition across the board in the Digestive Disease Center. And we have ratcheted it up across the board at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Dr. Linda Austin: What are some of the other areas of specialty that you are interested in?
Dr. Mark DeLegge: My other areas of specialty include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, reflux disease, diseases of the pancreas, liver and the esophagus. So, pretty much, if you have a GI disease, you fall into my area of expertise.
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