The Author: Latvijas Avīze / Veselības centrs 4
Gastroenterologist is a specialist that examines and treats the diseases of digestive system organs (oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, pancreas, peritoneum).
Most commonly, patients visit gastroenterologist at the recommendation of a general practitioner to specify the diagnosis. Symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases may include cough, chronic bronchitis, joint pain, skin problems, gynaecological complaints, etc., due to which the patients address other specialists first.
Gastroenterologists co-operate with gastrosurgeons However, gastroenterologists now treat many diseases that were once treated only surgically by non-invasive or minimally invasive methods.
The surgery, in the classical meaning of the word, has become a comparatively infrequent procedure in gastroenterology, since therapy options have expanded, as heavy ''arms'' – new, efficient medications and modern technologies have entered medicine.
For instance, the ligation of oesophageal or gastric vein nodules is performed during upper endoscopy by pushing rubber rings onto the nodules, which the compress the nodules. The compressed nodules are necrotised (die off) and disappear.
During polypectomy, the polyps of oesophagus, stomach and large intestine are removed by means of endoscopy procedure.
Alarm signals that point to the need of visiting a gastroenterologist:
- Abdominal pain or digestive disorders that have occurred recently, last for several weeks and even months. Seeking medical care is especially important for patients, who are older than 50.
- Vomiting with blood or black colour of intestinal content (stools) without explicable reason.
- Repeated episodes of vomiting without explicable reason.
- Unmotivated loss of body weight.
- If a blood test is performed and anaemia is detected.
- If changes in blood tests are detected that point to liver damage.
Gastroenterologists perform the following endoscopic examinations:
- Endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract – examination of oesophagus, stomach and initial part of the small intestine (including duodenum) by guiding the endoscope in the lumen of these organs, which allows visual examination of the mucous membrane of the digestive tract;
- Colonoscopy – examination of the large intestine by guiding the endoscope (colonoscope) through the anus;
- Biopsy – collection of tissue samples for histological (microscopic) examination during endoscopy, colonoscopy, enteroscopy, laparoscopy or endoscopic ultrasonoscopy.