What Does a Gastroenterologist Do?

Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine that focuses on the digestive tract and the gallbladder, liver, bile ducts, and pancreas.

Gastroenterologists are doctors who are trained to diagnose and treat problems in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and liver. These doctors also do routine procedures such as colonoscopies, which look at the inside of your colon. They get 5-6 years of specialized education after medical school.

When to See a Gastroenterologist

You might go to a gastroenterologist for health concerns with your:

  • Esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach
  • Stomach
  • Small intestine
  • Colon
  • Rectum
  • Pancreas
  • Gallbladder
  • Bile ducts
  • Liver

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Your primary care doctor may also refer you to a gastroenterologist if you have problems with:

  • Swallowing
  • Heartburn
  • Food coming back up after you swallow
  • Chronic or severe diarrhea

These could be minor health concerns or signs of a serious condition. Gastroenterologists have the tools and expertise to diagnose you correctly. A few of the diseases and conditions they manage include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Hepatitis
  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Colon polyps that may turn into cancer

You would also see a gastroenterologist to get a screening colonoscopy or other tests that look inside any part of your gastrointestinal tract.

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