What is Gastroenterology?

Gastroenterology is the study of the normal function and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver. It involves a detailed understanding of the normal action of the gastrointestinal organs including the movement of material through the stomach and intestine , the digestion and absorption of nutrients into the body, removal of waste from the system, and the function of the liver as a digestive organ.

It includes common and important conditions such as colon polyps and cancer, hepatitis, gastroesophageal reflux , peptic ulcer disease, colitis, gallbladder and biliary tract disease, nutritional problems, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and pancreatitis. In essence, all normal activity and disease of the digestive organs is part of the study of Gastroenterology.

What procedures do gastroenterologists perform?

Gastroenterologists perform a range of nonsurgical procedures. This can include:

  • upper endoscopy, which helps diagnose conditions of the food pipe, stomach, and small intestine
  • endoscopic ultrasounds, which examine the upper and lower GI tract, as well as other internal organs
  • colonoscopies, which can detect colon cancer or colon polyps
  • endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, which identifies stones or tumors in the bile duct area
  • sigmoidoscopy, which evaluates blood loss or pain in the lower large bowel
  • liver biopsy, which assesses inflammation and fibrosis in the liver
  • capsule endoscopy and double balloon enteroscopy, which both examine the small intestine
  • feeding tube insertion for inserting feeding tubes in the abdomen