What is gastroenterology?
Gastroenterology is a branch of internal medicine focused on disorders and diseases of the human digestive system, mostly involving the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Doctors who specialise in this field are called ‘gastroenterologists’. They diagnose and treat patients with digestive conditions and diseases.
In adult males the GI tract is 5 metres long and includes the oesophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine and large intestine (colon).
Common conditions that gastroenterologists treat include bowel cancer, malabsorption diseases, constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, ulcers, liver disease, hepatitis, gastritis, diverticulosis and gastroenteritis.
Gastroenterologists perform specialised diagnostic and therapeutic procedures such as liver biopsies and endoscopic examinations of the oesophagus, stomach, small and large bowel, such as gastroscopies and colonoscopies.
Gastroenterologists do not perform abdominal surgery; however they work closely with surgeons to determine the best surgical operation for a patient. Gastroenterologists provide post-surgery care to help their patients recover from or cope with their digestive disorder.