Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine focused on the digestive system and its disorders.
Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract, which include the organs from mouth into anus, along the alimentary canal, are the focus of this speciality. Physicians practicing in this field are called gastroenterologists. They have usually completed about eight years of pre-medical and medical education, a year-long internship (if this is not a part of the residency), three years of an internal medicine residency, and two to three years in the gastroenterology fellowship. Gastroenterologists perform a number of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures including colonoscopy, endoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiancreatography (ERCP), endoscopic ultrasound and liver biopsy. Some gastroenterology trainees will complete a “fourth-year” (although this is often their seventh year of graduate medical education) in transplant hepatology, advanced endoscopy, inflammatory bowel disease, motility or other topics.
Hepatology, or hepatobiliary medicine, encompasses the study of the liver, pancreas, and biliary tree, while proctology encompasses the fields of anus and rectum diseases. They are traditionally considered sub-specialties of gastroenterology.
Endoscopy (Gastroscopy/ Colonoscopy)
An endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of your body is examined using an endoscope. Endoscope An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube that has a light source and a video camera at one end. Images of the inside of your body are relayed to a television screen. Endoscopes can be inserted into the body through a natural opening, such as the mouth and down the throat, or through the anus (via the bottom).
Types of Endoscope:
Some of the most commonly used types of endoscopes include:
- Colonoscopes – used to examine your large intestine (colon)
- Gastroscopes – used to examine your oesophagus and stomach
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – used to check for gallstones.
A gastroscopy is a procedure where a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope is used to look inside the oesophagus (food pipe), stomach and first part of the small intestine (duodenum).
Why a gastroscopy may be used ?
A Gastroscopy can be used to:
- Investigate problems such as difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain.
- Diagnose conditions such as stomach ulcers or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- treat conditions such as bleeding ulcers, a blockage in the oesophagus, non-cancerous growths (polyps) or small cancerous tumours The gastroscopy procedure
A gastroscopy often takes less than 15 minutes, although it may take longer if it’s being used to treat a condition. It’s usually carried out as an outpatient procedure. Before the procedure, your throat will be numbed with a local anaesthetic spray. The doctor carrying out the procedure will place the endoscope in the back of your mouth and ask you to swallow the first part of the tube. It will then be guided down your oesophagus and into your stomach.
A colonoscopy is a test to view and evaluate the inner lining of your large bowel (colon) and rectum. Colonoscopy can detect inflamed tissue, ulcers, and abnormal growths. The procedure is used to look for early signs of colorectal cancer and can help doctors diagnose unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, bleeding from the anus, and weight loss. The procedure involves the insertion of a narrow and flexible telescopic camera, called a colonoscope, into your anus which allows the doctor to look directly at the lining of your bowel.
This test is normally performed with sedation or an injection of painkillers but you can choose not to have sedation if you wish. Sedation is medication that makes you sleepy but does not put you to sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions
A gastroscopy is a very safe procedure, but like all medical procedures it does carry a risk of complications. Possible complications that can occur include:
• internal bleeding
• tearing of the lining of your oesophagus, stomach or duodenum (perforation)
To make sure the doctor has a clear view of your colon, it must be completely empty. Therefore, you will be asked to follow a special diet for a few days before the procedure. You will have to take a laxative (substance that speeds bowel movement) before the test. Full details will be given to you when you come to the Endoscopy Unit.
Colonoscopy is a routine test with few side effects or complications. However you should be aware of the following potential complications:
• Bowel perforation
• Incomplete test (in less than 10% of procedures)