- In which specialist field are gastroenterology specialists active?
- Which illnesses do gastroenterology specialists treat?
- What treatment methods are used by gastroenterology specialists?
- What additional qualifications are required by gastroenterology specialists?
- Therapeutic range of services of gastroenterology
Gastroenterology - Further information
In a search for specialists in gastroenterology you will find gastroenterology experts for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the digestive system. You are suffering from chronic inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, stomach cancer, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, ulcer disease or irritable bowel syndrome and are seeking an experienced gastroenterologist? We will help you find the right specialist in gastroenterology.
In which specialist field are gastroenterology specialists active?
If you visit your primary care doctor with symptoms such as unexplained blood in your stools, if you are finding it difficult to swallow or if you are suffering abdominal pain, you may well be referred on to a gastroenterology specialist for further investigation.
This is a doctor whose medical expertise focuses on the gastrointestinal tract – the digestive organs from the mouth to the anus, which are connected to the alimentary canal.
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The field of gastroenterology itself also has two major subspecialties, which are:
- hepatology, which involves the study of the liver, the pancreas and the biliary tree (connecting vessels)
- proctology, which involves anal and rectal diseases
Beyond these disciplines, a gastroenterology specialist may also call upon a further range of medical specialists when required. These include:
- a geriatric specialist, who is a doctor focusing on diseases and conditions common in the elderly
- a gastro-enterologic surgeon, who can perform gastro-intestinal surgical procedures
- a general surgeon, who may be required to perform colorectal or transplant surgery
- a pathologist, who may be asked to analyse biopsy tissue samples to support a diagnosis
- an oncologist, whose expert opinion may be called upon if the presence of a possible cancer is suspected
Which illnesses do gastroenterology specialists treat?
Gastroenterology specialists treat a variety of conditions that affect the gastro-intestinal system. These can include:
- acid reflux, a common digestive condition that typically causes a burning pain (often described as heartburn). This feeling in the lower chest area is the result of stomach acids flowing back into the oesophagus (food pipe). GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is diagnosed when this happens three times a week or more.
- gastric ulcers, which can develop on the stomach lining
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), a common disorder that affects the colon (large intestine)
- hepatitis C, a contagious liver disease that can be mild to severe in its effect on the liver
- polyps, which are growths typically appearing in the large intestine
- jaundice, a yellowing of the skin caused by an excess of bilirubin (a liver by-product) in the blood
- haemorrhoids, which are swollen veins occurring in the anal region
- bloody stools, which may either be harmless or a sign of a serious disease
- pancreatitis, which is a rare condition disease causing pancreatic inflammation
- colon cancer, also known as bowel cancer or colorectal cancer, is any type of cancer affecting the colon and rectum
What treatment methods are used by gastroenterology specialists?
Gastroenterology specialists perform a number of non-surgical procedures, which can include:
- endoscopic ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create an internal image to examine both the upper and lower sections of the gastro-intestinal tract, as well as other surrounding tissue and organs
- a colonoscopy, used to check for the presence of ulcers, colon cancer or colon polyps, as well as areas of inflammation or bleeding
- ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), a technique that is used to diagnose and treat gallstones, tumours or scar tissue in the bile duct area
- sigmoidoscopy, a minimally invasive technique used to evaluate blood loss or pain in the bowel
- liver biopsy, a procedure in which tissue samples are taken to assess inflammation and fibrosis
- capsule endoscopy, which uses a micro-size wireless camera to create diagnostic images of your digestive tract
- DBE (double balloon enteroscopy), a new endoscopic technique that enables a complete and thorough examination of the small bowel
What additional qualifications are required by gastroenterology specialists?
A gastroenterologist must complete four years of education and training at medical school. After graduation, there is a three-year training program in internal medicine, which is known as a residency. This practical training is completed working alongside more experienced gastroenterologists.
Once a residency has been successfully completed, this is followed by a two or three-year fellowship to develop additional specialisms in this discipline. This could be in areas such as:
- hepatology, which concerns the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas
- pancreatic disease
- transplantation of organs such as the liver
- IBS (inflammatory bowel disease), a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract
- gastrointestinal cancer
- endoscopic surveillance, which is a non-surgical procedure doctors use to examine the gastro-intestinal tract
- reflux esophagitis, which is commonly due to gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition in which the stomach contents spill back into the oesophagus
When all training has been completed, the candidate must then pass a speciality certification exam for gastroenterology. All those who pass the exam requirements are then certified to practice by The American Board of Internal Medicine.
Therapeutic range of services of gastroenterology
The therapeutic range of services of gastroenterology includes for the most part
- oesophago-gastro-duodenoscopy (gastroscopy)
- laparoscopy and tissue removal
- percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC) (biliary viewing through the skin)
- minimally invasive surgery
- 24-hour pH monitoring (long-term acid measurement) of the oesophagus and/or stomach
- provocation tests in the oesophagus (Bernstein test, balloon distension test)
- H2-breath tests
- transit time measurements in the colon ( Hinton test)
- barostatic measurements in the rectum
- anorectal endosonography
- liver transplantation