Who is a gastroenterologist?

Who is a gastroenterologist?
5 min read
20 September 2022

Gastroenterologists are doctors trained in diagnosing and treating digestive system (GI) and liver problems. They have 5 to 6 years of specific instruction after clinical school. You may need to visit a gastroenterologist to find out about your health concerns:

  • The esophagus, the cylinder that associates your mouth to your stomach
  • Stomach
  • Gallbladder
  • Liver
  • Bile ducts
  • Small intestine
  • Pancreas
  • Colon
  • Rectum

What Does a Gastroenterologist Do?

On the off chance that you've ever gone to a gastroenterologist near me, you realize that you've probably been alluded to in light of the fact that something isn't right with the manner in which your body handles food. Lots of different situations can cause a problem. These terms include things like:

  • Colon polyps, or small groups of cells, on the lining of the colon
  • Some types of cancers that affect the intestine
  • Liver disease
  • heartburn
  • Ulcers in the covering of the stomach and small digestive tract
  • Inflammation of the large intestine or pancreas
  • Conditions of gallbladder
  • Crohn's disease/ ulcerative colitis (IBD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Internal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Celiac disease, an immune system ailment that can harm the small digestive tract

GI Docs expertise includes how the digestive system works:

  • It transports the substance through the stomach and intestines
  • Digests and absorbs nutrients
  • It removes waste

The main medical procedure that these doctors perform is endoscopy. For this purpose, they use a flexible, lighted tube with a built-in camera to see inside your intestine.

Gastroenterologists are not surgeons, but they work closely with them when needed.

When should you see a gastroenterologist?

Your primary care doctor may refer you to this specialist if you are:

  • You have unexplained blood in the stool
  • You have unexplained difficulty swallowing
  • You suffer from abdominal pain

If you are over 50, you may also want to see a gastroenterologist for preventive care. Men and women over the age of 50 are more likely to develop colon cancer.

If you are in this age group, you should be tested regularly. If you have a close relative with colon cancer, you should ask your doctor when to start the screening.

What procedures do they perform?

Gastroenterologists perform several procedures to diagnose, treat and manage conditions.

These procedures include:


During an endoscopy, a gastroenterologist uses a camera that connects to a long, thin tube called an endoscope to look inside the body.

They insert the endoscope through the mouth, down the throat, and then into the esophagus. It sends the images back to the screen for monitoring.

A gastroenterologist may perform an endoscopy to check symptoms such as:

  • persistent heartburn
  • problems with swallowing
  • bleeding
  • stomach pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • unexplained weight loss

Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy

These procedures are similar to endoscopy, but require the gastroenterologist to insert the tube into the rectum rather than the mouth.

A gastroenterologist can see the whole colon and rectum during a colonoscopy. Sigmoidoscopy just permits them to look at the rectum and lower colon.

During these procedures, gastroenterologists may look for:

  • Early signs of colon or rectal cancer
  • Causes of a change in bowel habit
  • Causes of certain symptoms, such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or unexplained weight loss


During a polypectomy, a gastroenterologist removes one or more polyps from the lining of the intestine.

Polyps are non-cancerous tumors that can develop on the colon. It is very common, affecting 30% of people over the age of 50 in the United States.

A gastroenterologist will either remove the polyps using wire loop forceps or use an electrical current to burn them during the colonoscopy.

Esophageal dilation

During a dilated esophagus, a gastroenterologist stretches a narrowed area of the esophagus.

Acid reflux can scar this muscle tube, narrowing it and making it difficult for a person to swallow food.

Layering of excess tissue, esophageal cancer, and scarring from radiation therapy can all lead to the same problem.

The gastroenterologist tightens the tube with a plastic expander or inflates a balloon. They usually do this during an endoscopy.

A gastroenterologist may sedate the person for the procedure. Alternatively, they can apply a topical anesthetic spray to the back of a person's throat.


A gastroenterologist does not perform surgery. His work is restricted to determination and clinical treatment. However, within the broad classification of surgery, gastroenterologists perform such procedures as liver biopsy and endoscopic examinations ("scope") of the esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestine. Also, a gastroenterologist often works with surgeons before and after surgery to help choose the best procedure for a specific patient, and in providing follow-up care related to a specific digestive disorder.

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