The branch of internal medicine that treats all diseases related to the digestive system is known as gastroenterology. Any disease that is related to the stomach, esophagus, small intestine, large intestine, liver, pancreas or gallbladder is checked by a specialist, who has specialized in the field of gastroenterology.
The specialized initially trains in internal medicine and thereafter specializes in treating diseases related to the digestive system. A gastroenterologist usually gets a certificate from the American Board of Internal Medicine and also receives training pertaining to gastroenterology. The specialist has to complete 4 years in college, and completed 4 years in a medical school. Thereafter, the training for gastroenterology takes further 4 to 6 years.
Usually, a gastroenterologist diagnoses and treats digestive diseases found in adults. If during the course of diagnosis and treatment the gastroenterologist finds that another system is also affected, they will work in conjunction with another specialist to treat the patient. A gastroenterologist does perform surgery, though they may perform certain procedures, such as biopsies or using endoscope to check parts of the digestive system.
Mostly when it comes to digestive system diseases, most people often get treated by a general physician. A visit to a gastroenterologist is required only in case of specialist treatment. When you go to a gastroenterologist for a digestive system disease, the specialist will first interview to find out about your overall health as well as past health problems. You should also inform the specialist about medications that you are currently taking. Thereafter, the specialist will perform a physical exam.
To get a confirmed diagnosis of the problem, the specialist may ask you get blood tests and X-rays done. In addition, you may have to undergo an examination of the stomach or colon where the specialist will use a special endoscope. During this procedure you will be sedated. Once the lab tests and the examination are completed, the specialist will make a diagnosis and begin treating the disease.
Under the scope of gastroenterology, the following problems can be treated by a specialist:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Cancer of the colon
- Polyps in the colon
- Crohn’s disease
- Hiatal hernia
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Gastro-esophageal reflux
- Ulcerative colitis
- Diseases related to the liver
- Stones in the gallbladder
- Problems swallowing
- Spastic colon
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