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 (physiology) of the gastrointestinal organs including the movement of material through the stomach and intestine (motility), 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 (heartburn), 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 are part of the study of Gastroenterology.
What makes gastroenterologists different?
The unique training that gastroenterologists complete provides them with the ability to provide high quality, comprehensive care for patients with a wide variety of gastrointestinal ailments.
Studies have shown that gastroenterologists perform higher quality colonoscopy examinations and comprehensive consultative services when compared to other physicians. This translates into more accurate detection of polyps and cancer by colonoscopy when performed by Gastroenterologists, fewer complications from procedures and fewer days in the hospital for many gastrointestinal conditions managed by trained gastroenterology specialists. It is this ability to provide more complete, accurate, and thorough care for patients with gastrointestinal conditions, which distinguishes gastroenterologists from other physicians that provide some similar services.
What is hepatology?
Hepatology is a branch of medicine that is focused on the study, prevention, diagnosis and management of diseases that affect the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas. The liver is usually the focal point of hepatology because it is a critical organ that can be affected by a large number of factors.
Some of the most common concerns that are diagnosed and managed by a hepatologist include:
- Diseases of the liver related to excess alcohol consumption, including fatty liver disease, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
- Viral hepatitis infections (hepatitis A, B,C and E).
- Gastrointestinal bleeding cause by portal hypertension linked to liver injury
- Genetic and metabolic liver disease
- Pancreatitis, usually when cause by alcohol consumption or gallstones
- Drug metabolism
- Damage to the pancreas or biliary tract cause by infection, cancer, alcohol, bleeding or obstruction
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