Gastroenterology is the investigation and treatment of diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract which
includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestines, colon and rectum. The liver, biliary system, and
pancreas are also a part of gastroenterology.
Management of these conditions requires an understanding of the normal function of the organs that digest and move nutrients thought the alimentary
tract as well as the myriad of problems that may cause this process to fail. Digestive disorders may include
infections, tumors, abnormal peristalsis, malabsorption and auto-immune conditions.
These conditions may cause any number of symptoms including heartburn, nausea, diarrhea,
constipation, jaundice and abdominal pain. Common conditions often managed by a
gastroenterologist include colon polyps and cancer, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease,
gastroesophageal reflux disease, celiac disease, gastrointestinal bleeding, and chronic liver disease.
Symptoms that may prompt investigation by a gastroenterologist include unexplained abdominal
pain, digestion problems, swallowing difficulty, jaundice and diarrhea.
Investigation of these conditions may include a combination of history, physical exam, blood analysis, stool studies, ultrasound and x-rays as well as endoscopy. Endoscopy is the use of narrow, flexible lighted cameras that can visualize the inside of the gastrointestinal tract. Common endoscopic procedures
performed be a gastroenterologist include colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
and endoscopic ultrasound. Therapeutic management of these conditions will often include disease specific diet recommendations, medications,
and in many cases endoscopic directed therapies.