What is Gastroenterology
What is Gastroenterology ?
The speciality of gastroenterology involves the diagnosis and management of patients with diseases of the intestines, liver and biliary tree, and pancreas. The specialty is broadly divided into two aspects: medical and surgical, with a close working relationship maintained between the two. Medical gastroenterology largely involves the diagnosis and management of patients using medicine and minimally invasive interventions, i.e. endoscopy.
Surgical gastroenterology is split into three specialties: the upper gastrointestinal tract, the lower GI tract and the liver, bile ducts and pancreas. Medical gastroenterology is often less specialised but with the opportunity to develop a sub-specialty in liver disease, dyspepsia, inflammatory bowel disease, functional disturbances of the gut, cancer, and endoscopy.
Endoscopy ranges from diagnostic to complex therapeutic endoscopy that is best regarded as a form of minimally invasive surgery, e.g. stopping bleeding from ulcers, removing gallstones. Many procedures in endoscopy have replaced traditional surgery as the safest way to manage the elderly population.
What is a Colonoscopy?
A Colonoscopy is a test that allows a doctor to look directly at the whole of the large bowel (colon). In order to do this, a flexible tube (the thickness of a finger) with a light on the end of it is carefully passed through the anus into the rectum and large bowel. This can be briefly uncomfortable as bends in the colon are negotiated.
To allow a clear view, your bowel needs to be completely empty and that is why it is important to follow our instructions and diet sheet carefully.
The doctor will give you an injection in your arm to make you drowsy and relaxed. A nurse will be with you throughout the test Pictures and samples (known as biopsies) may be taken and sometimes, small fleshy knobs on the lining of the bowel, which are known as polyps, can be removed.
The alternative to a colonoscopy is a barium enema, a type of X-ray that does not include treatment or provide biopsies.
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What is a gastroscopy?
A gastroscopy is an examination of the lining of the oesophagus (gullet), stomach and duodenum (first part of your upper bowel) using a flexible instrument - an endoscope - that is passed through your mouth. The endoscope is about the width of your little finger and has a light and a miniature camera at the tip. Small samples of the lining (biopsies) are sometimes taken through the endoscope.
What is a sigmoidoscopy?
A sigmoidoscopy is a test that allows the doctor to look directly at the lower end of the large bowel (colon). In order to do the test a sigmoidoscope (flexible tube about the thickness of a finger with a light on end) is carefully passed though the anus into the large bowel.
What is an ERCP?
ERCP is a procedure that allows your doctor to take detailed X-rays of the bile duct and/or pancreas, using a flexible tube with a bright light on the end. The doctor will give you an injection in your arm to make you drowsy and feel relaxed for the test. A nurse will be with you at all times.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning sensation behind the breastbone that results from the reflux (back flow) of acid and other stomach contents from the stomach into the esophagus (swallowing tube). Normally, acid should remain in the stomach when a meal is eaten. Heartburn arises when the "valve" (called the lower esophageal sphincter) between the esophagus and the stomach relaxes abnormally.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the intestine that leads to crampy pain, gas, bloating and changes in bowel habits. Some people with IBS have constipation, others have diarrhea and some people experience both. Sometimes a person with IBS has the urge to move the bowels but cannot do so. The cause of IBS is unknown and while there is no cure, effective treatment is available.
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver. It is the most common form of viral hepatitis and the most significant cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S. Hepatitis C is commonly transmitted by contact with contaminated blood. Twenty to thirty percent of people with chronic hepatitis C get cirrhosis of the liver. The progression of hepatitis C is slow and usually is not diagnosed until liver problems develop. Cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C can lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). If you have any of the following risk factors you should have a simple blood test to diagnose if you have been exposed to Hepatitis C. Patients with chronic Hepatitis C must be closely monitored by a gastroenterologist, and in some cases treatment can be offered.
What causes ulcers?
Ulcers are most commonly caused by infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). It resides in the stomach and causes an inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). Although a very large number of individuals, particularly those over the age of 50, are infected with this germ, in most individuals is does not cause any harm or symptoms. In only a small proportion, less than 5% of cases will ulcers develop. Currently, it is recommended that antibiotics be used to treat this infection if it is associated with a proven peptic ulcer. In addition to H. pylori, one of the most common causes of ulcers is the use of aspirin and a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These latter drugs include prescription medication, such as Motrin and Naprosyn, as well as over-the-counter medications such as Advil and Aleve. Tylenol and other forms of acetaminophen do not cause ulcers, but their use in very large doses, or in combination with alcohol, can lead to liver damage. It is also important to realize that certain non-prescription medications such as Alka-Seltzer, Goody Powder and Standback, also contain aspirin and can lead to serious damage to the stomach. Finally, a significant proportion of individuals develop ulcers without infection with H. pylori or without consuming NSAIDs. If you are experiencing pain in the center of the abdomen below the rib cage, it is advisable to see a gastroenterologist to determine whether you have an ulcer.
What is an EGD?
EGD is an acronym for esophagogastroduodenoscopy. Also known as upper endoscopy or upper GI endoscopy, EGD is a procedure that enables your physician to examine the lining of the upper part of your gastrointestinal tract, i.e. the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (first portion of the small intestine) using a thin flexible tube with its own lens and light source. Upper endoscopy is usually performed to evaluate symptoms of persistent upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or difficulty swallowing. It is also the best test for finding the cause of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract.
What is pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is a rare disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. Damage to the gland occurs when digestive enzymes are activated and begin attacking the pancreas. In severe cases, there may be bleeding into the gland, serious tissue damage, infection and cysts. Enzymes and toxins may enter the bloodstream and seriously injure organs, such as the heart, lungs and kidney. There are two forms of pancreatitis. The acute form occurs suddenly and may be a severe, life-threatening illness with many complications. Usually, however, the patient recovers completely. If injury to the pancreas continues, such as when a patient persists in drinking alcohol, a chronic form of the disease may develop, bringing severe pain and reduced functioning of the pancreas that affects digestion and causes weight loss.
What is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
This procedure enables the physician to study the sigmoid colon from inside. The colon (the large bowel) is gastrointestinal tracts’s last portion. The section of the colon closest to the anus and rectum is known as the sigmoid. The sigmoid colon is 20 inches of the colon which is 4 feet in length. The basic function of the colon is to store the byproducts of the food till they get eliminated. The purpose of flexible sigmoidoscopies is to assess the changes in bowel habits, blood loss and pain.
What is Capsule Endoscopy?
The procedure is useful in examining the complete small intestine. A vitamin pill- sized video capsule is ingested having its own light source and camera. The images are then sent by the video capsule that is travelling through the entire body. The images then can be seen on the waist belt which the patient is wearing having a data recorder. The procedure helps in determining the persistent or recurrent symptoms like anemia bleeding, abdominal pain or diarrhea that cannot be diagnosed with the techniques of x-rays, endoscopy and colonoscopy.
What is Liver Biopsy?
The procedure is used for determining any presence of fibrosis, inflammation and is also used for diagnosing the liver diseases.
What is Endoscopic Untrasonography (EUS)?
The procedure is used for examining the lower or upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. Gallbladder and pancreas are the internal organs that can also be examined through this procedure.
What is Double Balloon Enteroscopy?
The procedure is performed for examining small intestine where the earlier techniques are not able to reach. A high resolution video endoscope is used having latex balloons. These balloons are attached at the tips and can be deflated and inflated with air through a system of pressure controlled pump. Deflation or inflation cycles help in advancing more into the small intestine. The procedure is used for Crohn’s disease, gastrointestinal bleeding and unexplained diarrhea.
What is Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy?
This procedure in concerned with the upper part of the GI (Gastrointestinal tract) that includes stomach, duodenum and esophagus. The procedure is performed for diagnosing and evaluating the problems like abdominal or stomach pain, tumors and ulcers, bleeding, difficulty in swallowing and chronic heartburn.
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