What is Gastroenterology?
Gastroenterology is a branch of Medicine specializing in diseases of the digestive system. The digestive system includes the oesophagus, stomach, small bowel, colon, liver, pancreas and biliary system.
A gastroenterologist is a subspecialist of either Internal Medicine or Surgery. A medical gastroenterologist focuses on diagnosing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and treating them with either medication or interventional endoscopy (See Procedures) – but does not operate. A surgical gastroenterologist focuses on diseases that can be cured with surgery, but may deal with disorders that do not require surgery, as well. Sometimes systemic disorders manifest with gastrointestinal problems, and sometimes gastrointestinal disorders manifest with systemic problems - so medical gastroenterologists are well placed to address these issues, given their specialist training in Internal Medicine.
Should you see a gastroenterologist?
Because gastroenterologists have very specialized skills, it is best to consult with your GP to confirm that you have a disorder that can be addressed by this subspeciality. Your GP can also assist as to whether a medical gastroenterologist or a surgeon is best equipped to deal with your particular problem. Each has their own particular set of expertise.