Digestive Disease Associates, P.A. (DDA) was formed in 1996 and is now the largest single specialty gastroenterology group in Howard and Baltimore counties. We currently staff 16 gastroenterologist and two nurse practitioners.




Richard Andorsky, M.D.

Thomas Abernathy, M.D.

Biju Alex, M.D.

Allen Banegura, M.D.

Kester Crosse, M.D

Grishma Joy, M.D.

Preston Kim, M.D.

Vijay Narayen, M.D.

Jeffery van den Broek, D.O.

Thomas Abernathy, M.D.

Allen Banegura, M.D.

Christopher Kim, M.D.

Natarajan Ravendhran, M.D.

Louis Salas, M.D.

Neeraj Sardana, M.D.

Missale Solomon, M.D.

Hossein Tavassolie, M.D.

Alana Harris, CRNP

Digestive Disease Associates services Howard County, Anne Arundel County, southwest Baltimore County, and Baltimore City. In addition to our office locations, we operate two state-of-the-art outpatient endoscopy centers where patients can have their endoscopic procedures done in a safe, comfortable, and friendly environment. DDA physicians hold privileges at Howard County General Hospital and Saint Agnes Hospital. DDA also operates a research division participating in clinical studies in the areas of ulcer disease, Hepatitis C, Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

DDA offers a full range of services specializing in diseases of the digestive tract and liver:

  • Screening Colonoscopy
  • Direct Access Screening ColonoscopyColumbia Gastroenterology, Anne Arundel Gastroenterologists
  • Upper GI Endoscopy (Gastroscopy)
  • Band ligation of esophageal varices
  • Colon Polypectomy
  • Esophageal Dilation
  • Esophageal Manometry
  • Feeding tube placement
  • H Pylori Breath Test
  • Hemorrhoid Banding
  • Incontinence Therapy
  • Infusion Services (Remade, Entyvio, Cimzia, Stelara, Simponi Aria and Injectafer (Iron))
  • Liver Biopsy
  • Liver Fibroscan
  • Video Capsule Endoscopy
  • Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG)
  • Therapeutic Endoscopy
  • 48 Hour Esophageal pH Monitoring

For more information about our physicians and services, call Digestive Disease Associates at 410-715-4655 or visit our website at www.ddamd.com.


Question: What is a gastroenterologist?

Answer: A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and biliary system.

Questions: What is colon/colorectal cancer and what causes it?

Answer: Colon cancer forms in the tissues of the colon, which is the largest part of the intestine. Most colon cancers begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids to aid in digestion and the elimination of waste products. Rectal cancer forms in the tissues of the rectum, the last several inches of the large intestine before the anus. Either of these cancers is called colorectal cancer. Though scientists are unsure of the exact causes of colon and colorectal cancer, some risk factors have been identified, including being over age 50, presence of polyps, a high-fat diet, family or personal history of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease or other inflammatory bowel diseases, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, obesity, smoking and alcohol, growth hormone disorder and radiation therapy for cancer.

Question: What is an endoscopy?

Answer: An endoscopy is a procedure where the doctor uses an endoscope, which is a long, flexible lighted tube to examine the inside of your gastrointestinal tract.

Question: What is a colonoscopy?

Answer: Colonoscopy is a procedure which enables a physician (usually a gastroenterologist) to directly view and examine the entire colon. It is effective in the diagnosis and/or evaluation of various GI disorders (e.g. colon polyps, colon cancer, diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease, bleeding, change in bowel habits, abdominal pain, obstruction and abnormal x-rays or CT scans) as well as in providing therapy (for example, removal of polyps or control of bleeding). It is also used for screening for colon cancer. A key advantage of this technique is that it allows both imaging of abnormal findings and also therapy or removal of these lesions during the same examination. This procedure is particularly helpful for identification and removal of precancerous polyps.

Questions: How long does a colonoscopy take?

Answer: The procedure itself typically lasts approximately 30 minutes. When complete, your nurse will take you into a recovery area, where the sedation quickly wears off.

Question: Is a colonoscopy painful? Will I be sedated?

Answer: No, colonoscopy is usually not painful! Almost all colonoscopies can be performed using “intravenous sedation” in which you are very drowsy, but comfortable and still breathing on your own. The most common type of sedation also has a mild amnesiac effect, so most patients do not even remember the procedure. Your doctor can discuss with you the best form of sedation to suit your needs.

Question: What is the “prep” for colonoscopy like?

Answer: This is an important obstacle in the eyes of many patients to getting a colonoscopy, but it need not be! There are a variety of preparation methods for colonoscopy ranging from liquids (of varying quantity) with or without enemas, to pills, which rid your colon of feces. A clean colon is essential to allow for a careful examination for polyps or other abnormalities. Your doctor can discuss and prescribe the most appropriate preparation method for you, taking into account various factors such as your age, personal preferences, kidney function and physical stamina.

The most popular preparation used for colonoscopy involves drinking a volume of solution of polyethylene glycol (PEG). This solution causes a diarrhea that effectively rids the colon of its contents. Various fruit flavors are available and patients have several hours to drink it. Usually a patient will have clear liquids the day of the preparation (day before the colonoscopy) and then take half of the prep in the late afternoon or that evening. The other half is done approximately 5 hours before coming in for the test the following day. Patients are encouraged to drink a lot of fluids and to continue clear liquids up until 2 hours before their scheduled procedure.

Smaller volumes of solution or pill preparations are also available with similarly good outcomes to PEG for people who dread the thought of large volumes of liquid.

Question: What is a colon polyp?

Answer: Anyone can develop colon polyps, a small clump of cells that forms on the colon lining. Colon polyps can be raised or flat. Many middle-aged and older adults have one or more colon polyps, though you’re at a higher risk if you are 50 or older, are overweight or a smoker, eat a high-fat, low-fiber diet, or have a personal or family history of polyps or colon cancer. It’s important to remember that the great majority of colon polyps are harmless, but some can become cancerous over time. Screening is especially important because most polyps don’t cause symptoms. In most cases, the doctor removes colon polyps during flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy and then tests them for cancer.

Question: Who is at risk for colon/colorectal cancer?


  • Everyone age 50 and older
  • The average age to develop colorectal cancer is 70 years, and 93% of cases occur in persons 50 years of age or older. Current recommendations are to begin screening (colonoscopy) at age 50 if there are no risk factors other than age for colorectal cancers. A person whose only risk factor is their age is said to be at average risk.
  • Men and women
  • Men tend to get colorectal cancer at an earlier age than women, but women live longer so they ‘catch up’ with men and thus the total number of cases in men and women is equal
  • Anyone with a family history of colorectal cancer
  • If a person has a history of two or more first-degree relatives (parent, sibling, or child) with colorectal cancer, or any first-degree relatives diagnosed under age 60, the overall colorectal cancer risk is three to six times higher than that of the general population. For those with one first-degree relative diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 60 or older, there is an approximate two times greater risk of colon cancer than that observed in the general population. Special screening programs are used for those with a family history of colorectal cancer. A well-documented family history of adenomas is also an important risk factor.
  • Anyone with a personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomas at any age, or cancer of endometrium (uterus) or ovary diagnosed before age 50

Persons who have had colorectal cancer or adenomas removed are at increased risk of developing additional adenomas or cancers. Women diagnosed with uterine or ovarian cancer before age 50 are at increased risk of colorectal cancer. These groups should be checked by colonoscopy at regular intervals, usually every 3 to 5 years. Women with a personal history of breast cancer have only a very slight increase in risk of colorectal cancer.

For more information about our physicians and services, call Digestive Disease Associates at 410-715-4655 or visit our website at www.ddamd.com.