Why See a Gastroenterologist?
Patients experiencing abdominal illness involving the digestive tract, possible in the stomach, small bowel or colon and including the liver, gallbladder and pancreas are patients who should be seeing a gastroenterologist.
However, patients should first seek advice at the general practitioner level, allowing for a medical diagnosis and possibly even attempts at management of the illness in uncomplicated and mild disease to be attempted before referral to a Gastroenterologist should be sought. Often various other abdominal and particularly gynaecological illness may mimic diseases of the digestive tract and these should be excluded.
The Benefit of seeing a gastroenterologist include who has specialised knowledge in his field of disease includes:
- Establishing a diagnosis when other investigations have been inconclusive.
- Aiding in a diagnosis when trials of treatment have failed.
- Treating disease appropriately with evidence based medicine (based on research) to facilitate good recovery and prevent relapse.
- Therapeutic Intervention(i.e. endoscopic treatment or medical treatment) of specific illnesses. (eg. Removal of polyps, banding of varices, treatment of Barrett’s oesophagus, Removal of gallstones, treatment of obstructions, drainage of Cysts)
- Surveillance for Cancers (routine gastroscope or colonoscopies) after the age of 50.
- Specialised care of complicated and potentially progressive diseases that should be supervised by a gastroenterologist (including inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis)
A gastroenterologist has vast background knowledge regarding the gastrointestinal tract. This allows him to understand and interpret symptom patterns, evaluate clinical disease more accurately and perform more accurate investigations because of acquiring additional and specialised training in performing these investigations (example endoscopy).