Gastroenterology is an area of medicine that focuses on the health of the digestive system, or the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Gastroenterologists can treat everything from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to hepatitis C. Here’s a look at what these specialists do and when you should consider seeing one.
These specialists primarily diagnose and treat GI diseases in both men and women.
They perform endoscopic procedures, in which they use specialized instruments to view the GI tract and make a diagnosis. They don’t perform surgery. In some cases, they may work closely with a GI surgeon. They primarily work in clinic or hospital settings.
The GI system:
- digests and moves food
- absorbs nutrients
- removes waste from your body
Gastroenterologists can treat any part of this system.
Although the GI system includes the mouth, these specialists generally don’t provide care or services here. Instead, dentists and dental specialists focus on the health of the oral cavity.
Other parts of the GI system include the:
- small intestine
- large intestine
- salivary glands
Proctologists also treat diseases of the rectum and anus.
Gastroenterology is a specialized area of medicine that focuses on the GI tract. Some gastroenterologists treat general diseases of the GI. Others focus on a particular type of gastroenterology.
Some possible areas of emphasis are:
- hepatology, which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas
- pancreatic disease
- inflammatory bowel disease, or chronic inflammation of your digestive tract
- gastrointestinal cancer
- endoscopic surveillance
- reflux esophagitis, which is commonly due to gastroesophageal reflux disease