Qiang Cai, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine

Department of Medicine

Office: TEC B1262

Phone: 404-778-4857

Fax: 404-778-2578

Email: qcai@emory.edu


Dr. Qiang Cai is one of the major therapeutic endoscopists at Emory University Hospital, director of Advanced Endoscopy Fellowship, and a professor of medicine in the Division of Digestive Diseases at the Emory University School of Medicine. As a physician, he performs a variety of endoscopic procedures, some of which are not widely available. In addition to his procedures, he also runs several clinical trials and has several funded clinical research projects, mainly concerning pancreatobiliary diseases and therapeutic endoscopy. For his work in teaching medical students, residents and fellows, he has received the best teacher award three times. Additionally, Dr. Cai is a member of many committees of the American College of Gastroenterology, American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and serves on the editorial boards of various medical publications, including American Journal of Gastroenterology, Chinese Medical Journal, etc.

Dr. Cai is a graduate of Jiangxi Medical College in China. After graduating from the medical college in 1982, he attended Peking Union Medical College Hospital, one of the best hospitals in China, where he began his career in Gastroenterology under the tutorship of Drs. Xiao-Qian Zhang, Min-Zhang Chen, Shou-Po Chen and Yuan-Fang Chen. There, he obtained his master degree in gastrointestinal physiology and served as a gastroenterologist and faculty member before moving to the United States in 1987.

In 1992, Dr. Cai obtained his PhD in gastrointestinal physiology from Cornell University, where he studied intestinal calcium absorption under the guidance of Dr, Robert H. Wasserman, the father of intestinal calcium binding protein. He completed his internal medicine residency training at Marshfield Clinic, one of the training facilities of the University of Wisconsin, and his gastroenterology fellowship at the Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Cai joined the faculty team at the Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine in July 2001.

Dr. Cai’s main research interests are pancreatobiliary diseases, including diseases in the pancreas, the gallbladder and the bile duct, as well as therapeutic endoscopy. He cooperates with several industrial companies in clinical research and has several funded clinical research projects. One of his projects is to improve the techniques of ERCP, which is an endoscopic procedure to diagnose and treat diseases in the pancreas and the bile duct system, such as pancreatic cancer, bile duct stone and bile leak after surgery. Dr. Cai has performed a few thousand ERCPs, and he is the first one to use a fatty meal before the ERCP procedure, which makes the procedure much easier to perform.

A manuscript of this fatty meal-ERCP study was recently published in Endoscopy and has drawn significant attention from the field. He has received many e-mails and phone calls regarding this research on fatty meal and ERCP. Dr. Cai continues to conduct research that seeks to improve the success rate of cannulation at ERCP, including the minor papilla cannulation at ERCP. He is also working on establishing a system for performing minor papilla manometry, which will help diagnosis of some unknown diseases in the pancreas.

Dr. Cai’s other clinical research concerns bile duct microlithiasis (small stones), which can cause pancreatitis as well as abdominal pain. Those small stones can’t be identified by routine examinations such as abdominal ultrasound or computed tomogram (CT), and only can be seen under a special microscope. Many patients who have right upper quadrant abdominal pain without an identified cause are commonly thought of as having irritable bowel syndrome, non-ulcer dyspepsia or postcholecystectomy pain syndrome when microlithiasis may be the cause. Dr. Cai’s expertise in this area can help such patients.

Dr. Cai can also help patients with pancreas divisum. Pancreas divisum is the most common congenital pancreatic anomaly, occurring in about 10% of the general population. Patients with pancreas divisum may be subject to recurrent acute pancreatitis. Diagnosis and treatment of pancreas divisum requires minor papilla cannulation and stenting at ERCP. These procedures propose technical difficulties and are only performed by a few experts in the nation. Dr. Cai’s experience in this area can help patients with this condition.

At Emory University Hospital and Emory Clinic, Dr. Cai is a very active and an excellent therapeutic endoscopist. On average, he performs 10 or more endoscopic procedures each weekday. In addition to some routine endoscopic procedures such as EGD and colonoscopy, he is also able to perform a variety of advanced endoscopic procedures, such as diagnostic/therapeutic ERCP, EUS with FNA. Many of the procedures that Dr. Cai performs, such as endoscopic ampullectomy, endoscopic cystogatrostomy, celiac nerve block and others, are not widely available.

In addition to his research and clinical work, Dr. Cai also teaches nursing students, medical students, internal medicine residents and Gastroenterology fellows. He has been awarded as best teacher three times, once at the University of Wisconsin and twice at Emory University. He teaches senior Gastroenterology fellows about performing advanced endoscopic procedures such as endoscopic ampullectomy, endoscopic gastrocystostomy, endoscopic stent placement and others. Dr. Cai also gives a lecture on Pancreatitis to medical students at Emory University once a year. Many of the medical students and residents that Dr. Cai has mentored in clinical research have obtained Gastroenterology fellow positions at Emory and other institutions, including Mayo Medical School and Duke University Medical School. Some of them have obtained faculty positions in medical schools.

Dr. Cai also serves as a member of several committees. He has been a member of Research Committee, Training Committee of American College of Gastroenterology, which is largest clinical gastroenterology society in the nation. Currently, he serves as a member of the Nutrition and Metabolic Support Committee at Emory University Hospital, the International Affairs Committee of the American College of Gastroenterology and the Research Committee of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the largest endoscopy society in the nation. Dr. Cai also serves as editor, associate editor, and member of editorial boards for several journals.


1. Cai Q, Bruno CJ, Hagedorn CH, Desbiens NA. Temporal Trends over then year in formal inpatient gastroenterology consultations at an inner city hospital J Clin Gastroenterol 2003;36:34-38

2. Cai Q, Baumgarten DA, Affronti JA, Waring JP. Incidental findings of thickening luminal gastrointestinal organs on computed tomogram: an absolute indication for endoscopy Am J Gastroenterol 2003;98:1734-1737.

3. Obideen MK, Wehbi M, Ghaxale A, Martinez E, Cai Q. Efficacy and safety of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt in the treatment of nongastric extraesophageal variceal bleeding. J Clin Gastroenterol;2004;38:373376

4. Barrie M, Klein SD, Brown CA, Edge MD, Affronti JA, Cai Q. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography after a liquid fatty meal: effect on deep common bile duct cannulation time. Endoscopy 2006;38:241-248.

5. Obideen MK, Wehbi M, Hoteit M, Cai Q. Nocturnal Hydration—An Effective Modality to Reduce Recurrent Abdominal Pain and Recurrent Pancreatitis in Patients with Adult-Onset Cystic Fibrosis. 2006; in press