In the US, gastrointestinal disorders are common. General practitioners will often refer patients with symptoms to gastroenterologists. But what is gastroenterology? And what are the benefits of going to a gastroenterologist for help?
Gastroenterology is the study of the function and diseases of tissues that comprise the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These include the rectum, colon, small intestines, stomach, esophagus, bile ducts, gallbladder and liver.
Gastroenterologists – physicians who specialize in gastroenterology – may have several focuses. Some, for instance, may have expertise in the study and treatment of the liver (hepatology). These doctors check the health of the liver itself, plus related tissues, such as the biliary tree, pancreas and gallbladder. Other gastroenterologists may specialize in cancers that affect the digestive tract, such as bowel cancer or stomach cancer.