‘Gastroenterology’ is a sub-specialty of Internal Medicine and is concerned with diseases affecting the organs of the Gastrointestinal system including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver, as well as their normal function.
Who is a Gastroenterologist?
Physicians specializing in this hard-to-pronounce medical field deal with the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract-otherwise known as the ‘digestive system’-and the liver. They also have a thorough knowledge of ‘motility’ (movement of food through the digestive tract) and ‘digestion’ (the chemical and physical breakdown of food)-the two main functions of the digestive system-and various related disorders.
What Makes Them Unique:
Gastroenterologists are extensively trained in all forms of endoscopy using specialized instruments to view the GI tract and accurately diagnose various diseases. They can expertly perform upper endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy as well as advanced endoscopic procedures such as polypectomy (removal of colon polyps), esophageal and intestinal dilation (stretching of narrowed areas), and hemostasis (injection to stop bleeding), and the necessary precautions required to ensure a patient’s comfort and security.
Note that gastroenterologists do not perform surgery, but can work in cooperation with Gastrointestinal Surgeons.
The Conditions Gastroenterologists Treat:
Some of the conditions and diseases that a GI Specialist can detect and treat include:
- Cancer of all GI tract organs
- Celiac disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Gallbladder disease
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Hiatal Hernias
In addition to these diseases, a Gastroenterologist can also help in the treatment of various symptoms such as abdominal pain and discomfort, digestive tract bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, difficulty in swallowing and unexplained weight loss.
The Procedures They Perform:
Doctors specializing in Gastroenterology can perform the following non-surgical procedures:
- Endoscopic Ultrasound: For examining the upper and lower GI tract and other internal organs.
- Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography: For identification of gallstones, tumors, or scar tissue in the bile duct area.
- Capsule Endoscopy and Double Balloon Enteroscopy: For small intestine examination.
- Colonoscopy: For colon cancer or colon polyp detection.
- Sigmoidoscopy: For evaluating bowel pain and blood loss.
- Liver Biopsy: For assessing inflammation and fibrosis.
When to Visit a Gastroenterologist:
While it is necessary for individuals over the age of 50 to go for regular screenings as preventive care against developing colorectal cancer, you should also consider an appointment if you observe unexplained blood in your stool, have unexplained swallowing problems or experience severe abdominal pain.
Patients who are currently suffering or have suffered from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome must consult with a specialist immediately in case of resurgence or a sudden flare-up of these conditions. You might also be referred to a gastroenterologist if ‘hepatitis’ or ‘pancreatitis’ is suspected.
As prevention is better than cure, gastroenterologists should be consulted on a regular basis in order to avoid GI cancers if you are considered to be at higher risk of developing them OR any of the possibly life-threatening conditions mentioned above. Book an Appointment with a top Gastroenterologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your gastric issues.
About the Writer:
Yashfa Marrium is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected]