to diagnose and treat patients suffering from diseases and complications of the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract, treating conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or gastroesophageal reflux disease, among many others.
Gastroenterology is a subspecialty of internal medicine that is focused on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and management of disorders and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), digestive system and related structures. This includes the organs and structures from the mouth to the anus that are involved in the ingestion or digestion of foods, as well as those involved in the excretion of processed biological materials.
Gastroenterologists are able to treat a wide range of diseases and disorders ranging from the very common to the very rare. These may include heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gallstones, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastrointestinal cancers, among other disorders. When diagnosing these disorders gastroenterologists rely on a variety of techniques and procedures, including colonoscopies, biopsies, esophageal dilation, endoscopies, X-rays and various other diagnostic procedures.
After a successful diagnosis of the condition or disease, gastroenterologists will personalize a treatment and management plan for each patient. For example, if a patient is diagnosed with IBS (a long term, chronic condition that causes patients to suffer recurring bouts of abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation), the physician must tailor a treatment and management plan that is unique to the patient, based on their specific medical situation. This may include suggestions with regard to diet and exercise, the prescription of medications, and in some cases, surgery.