Gastroenterology is a subspecialty of Internal Medicine dealing with non-surgical disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, gall bladder, and pancreas.Find a Gastroenterology Physician »
Gastroenterology is a subspecialty of Internal Medicine involving disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, pancreas, and gall bladder.
Patients with a variety of digestive complaints or problems – abdominal pain, bleeding, heartburn, ulcer disease, hepatitis, colon polyps and cancer, diarrhea or constipation, gallstones, pancreatitis - will often see a gastroenterologist for evaluation and treatment.
The upper and lower intestinal tract is examined with a long, thin, flexible endoscope in order to detect abnormalities in the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, or bile ducts. Biopsies and polyp removal are possible during the procedure. Active bleeding sites can often be treated. Narrowings (strictures) of the gut are often dilated.
Fasting is usually required for at least six hours prior to an endoscopy. Evaluation of the large intestine (sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy) will require additional preparation. Patients are sedated with intravenous medications and usually have little or no recollection of the procedure. After recovery, the patient will require a drive home. Immediate resumption of a regular diet is the rule.
Mild gas pains” are often present after the procedure, but will soon resolve. More serious complications (bleeding, perforation) are extremely rare.