A Brief Guide to Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology is the field of treatment of ailments of the digestive system, also referred to as GI (Gastro-Intestinal) tract. Best Gastroenterologist in Bangalore has wide training to diagnose and treat conditions which impact the stomach, esophagus, colon (large intestine), small intestine and the biliary system (bile ducts, gall bladder, pancreas, liver, etc.)

Gastroenterology is a subspecialty of the field of Internal Medicine. A Gastroenterologist must possess a detailed understanding of the regular physiology of GI organs (mentioned above). He must also be aware of the issues of motility through the GI tract and intestines to keep up the absorption of nutrients, healthy digestion, metabolic processes and removal of waste.

The GI System

Thus, the GI system helps to:

  • Digest and regulate the movement of food
  • Absorb nutrients
  • Discard wastes of the body

Though the mouth is a part of the GI system, the health of the oral cavity is ensured by dental specialists and dentists. Other parts of the GI system include:

  • Oesophagus
  • Pharynx
  • Small Intestine
  • Stomach
  • Colon
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Gall bladder
  • Salivary glands
  • Epiglottis
  • Tongue
  • Anus
  • Rectum

Conditions Treated

An able gastroenterologist must also have a comprehensive understanding of diseases impacting the organs of the digestive system like:

  • Gastric cancers
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Oesophageal cancers
  • Colon Polyps
  • Barret’s Esophagus
  • Cancer of bowel and colon
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cholecystitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer and stones in Gall’s bladder
  • A disease of the Biliary tract
  • Jaundice
  • Blood in stool
  • Hepatitis
  • GERD ( Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease)
  • Colitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Malabsorption and Nutritional problems.

Diseases of the anus and rectum are treated also by Proctologists.

Procedures Conducted By Gastroenterologists

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These specialists perform a wide range of non-surgical procedures. They are:

  • Endoscopic ultrasounds for examining upper and lower GI tract and other such internal organs.
  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography for identifying scar tissue, tumors, gall stones in the bile duct.
  • Colonoscopies to judge colon polyps or colon cancer
  • Liver biopsies to evaluate fibrosis and inflammation
  • Sigmoidoscopies to judge pain or blood loss in the bowel
  • Capsule endoscopy to capture images of the small intestine
  • Enteroscopies with double-balloon for examining the small intestine.

When to Consult a Gastroenterologist?

The primary care doctor will refer you to a gastro specialist in case you have:

  • The abnormal occurrence of blood in your stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal difficulty in swallowing
  • Acid reflux

In case you are over the age of 50, it will be good to have a routine check-up with a gastro specialist for preventive care. Persons over the age of 50 have more risk of colon cancer. Once you enter this age bracket, you must do regular screenings with the GI specialist.

Training of Gastroenterologists

When aspiring Gastro specialists undertake training as part of fellowships, they train in the following:

  • Taking care of patients in various settings ( hospital, doctor’s office)
  • Assessing patients with conditions and symptoms of GI diseases.
  • Performing diagnostic procedures (like sigmoidoscopy, upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, etc.)
  • Offering recommendations for preventing diseases and maintaining good health.

During fellowships, gastro physicians learn how to conduct complicated procedures like Polyp removal (Polypectomy), Procedures to stop bleeding and Stretching (Dilation) of intestines and esophagus. They learn how to administer sedation needed for these procedures and how to construe results.

Fields of Specialization In Gastroenterology

  • Nutrition specialist
  • GI functional bowel/ physiology specialist
  • Lab scientist
  • Gastrointestinal oncologist
  • General Gastroenterologist
  • Clinical Trialists
  • Hepatologists

Skill Required

  • Good qualifications (education and training)
  • Discipline
  • Self-motivation
  • Inter-personal skills
  • Patience
  • Wide knowledge in medicine
  • Skills of critical analysis
  • Self-confidence
  • Commitment towards excellence
  • Skills of quick decision making

Progression of Career in Gastro-Enterology

  • Candidates must first pass 10 plus 2, with Chemistry, Biology, and Physics.
  • Next, candidates must appear for Medical Entrance exam. National level exams are NEET, JIPMER, and AIIMS, etc. Admission all over India is completed through NEET. 
  • After completing 4 to 5-year basic Medical degree (M. B.B.S), the candidate must take up postgraduate programs like MS/MD/DNB in Internal Medicine.
  • Next, you must specialize in 3-year Doctoral courses in Gastroenterology like MCh or DM in Gastroenterology.  

These are all some important facts about the medical field of Gastroenterology. These are what make the path of best Gastroenterology doctor in Bangalore, so rewarding and fulfilling.

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