Gastroenterology

A Gastroenterologist is an internist who specialises in the digestive system.

The digestive system includes the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and a 7.5m long tube that processes food and nutrients. These organs break down and absorb the food we eat so that the nutrients can be transported into the bloodstream and delivered to cells throughout the body. When these organs do not function properly, patients may need to see a Gastroenterologist. Gastroenterologists listen to your problems related to the digestive system, perform tests to make a diagnosis, answer your questions and prescribe the best course of treatment for the problem. These specialists complete 6 years of medical school and 4 years of internal residency, followed by a fellowship in Gastroenterology. The rigorous fellowship takes 2 years to complete and ensures the doctor is uniquely and highly qualified to diagnose and treat disorders of the digestive tract.

During a GI fellowship, doctors learn about disorders of the GI tract including: screening for gastrointestinal cancers, oesophageal problems, GERD, ulcers and Helicobacter pylori, gallbladder and bile duct diseases, pancreas disorders, cellular and molecular physiology, endoscopy, geriatric gastroenterology, liver disease and pathology, inflammatory diseases of the intestines, infections of the intestines, motility and functional illnesses, nutrition and obesity, paediatric gastroenterology, radiology and cancers of the digestive system.

Gastroenterologists use a number of techniques to view the organs of the digestive tract. Colonoscopy is performed to examine the large intestine. A long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and a light on the end of the colonoscope is used to view the entire colon and rectum. Gastroscopy or upper endoscopy is used to examine the upper digestive tract. In some cases, gastroenterologists can treat digestive conditions through the endoscope. Double balloon endoscopy is new endoscopy instrument used to examine the entire small bowel. E.R.C.P is a procedure whereby a duodenoscope is used to investigate the bile ducts and pancreas.

EUS, another diagnostic tool used by Gastroenterologists stands for “Endoscopic Ultrasound” and is used to examine the walls of the upper and lower gastro-intestinal tract as well as the adjacent internal organs.

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