Gastroenterology is the field of medicine that addresses the digestive system and its related organs. The gastrointestinal (GI) system includes the intestines, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, stomach and esophagus. Physicians in this field are called gastroenterologists. Gastrointestinal doctors go through specialized medical education.
Your internal medicine physician may refer you to a gastrointestinal doctor if you are experiencing certain symptoms or conditions including:
- Abdominal pain
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Nausea and vomiting
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Liver disease
Diagnosing Gastrointestinal Conditions
Many GI issues present with similar symptoms, like abdominal pain and nausea. Therefore, an appropriate diagnosis is a key step in treating GI problems.
To diagnose your condition, a gastroenterology specialist will review your medical history, conduct a physical exam and order screening tests.
Testing and Monitoring Gastrointestinal Conditions
Aiken Physicians Alliance, located in Aiken, South Carolina, is proud to offer advanced and minimally invasive testing and monitoring options for digestive issues. Gastroenterology procedures are now made simple with technologies like the PillCam(TM) and SmartPill(TM).
The PillCam provides a noninvasive alternative to a traditional colonoscopy. With this approach, the patient swallows a small capsule that has a tiny camera inside it. The camera takes thousands of pictures as it moves through the digestive tract. It then transmits the pictures to a recording device.
Unlike a traditional colonoscopy, the procedure requires no anesthesia and involves no recovery time. The device can help detect bleeding, tumors, ulcers, inflammation and more. The capsule can be especially helpful for seeing the middle portions of the digestive tract that would normally require exploratory surgery.
The SmartPill is also a small capsule that’s swallowed by the patient and delivers information to a recording device. It measures pressure, pH, transit time and temperature as it passes through the digestive tract. This information helps the physician evaluate motility disorders, such as constipation and gastroparesis.
A colonoscopy is the most common procedure for screening for colon cancer. A colonoscopy enables physicians to examine the entire large intestine, colon and rectum for polyps. Polyps are small growths that can become cancerous over time.
During a colonoscopy, the doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera. The physician then gently eases the tube into the colon by the physician. Small amounts of air are puffed into the colon to keep it open and let the physician see clearly.
The camera sends pictures to a monitor. These pictures allow the doctor to get a complete picture of the colon and surrounding organs.
Before the colonoscopy, the patients undergo bowel prep. Patients are usually given medicine to help them relax during the procedure.
The exam takes about 30 minutes. Patients can typically resume normal activity shortly after the procedure.
CT scans of the liver, abdomen and pancreas can help doctors assess the health of the gastrointestinal system. These scans show whether or not there are any areas that are infected or enlarged.
Treating Gastrointestinal Conditions
Our gastroenterologists perform a variety of procedures to help treat adults with GI issues. Talk to your doctor today about what tests and treatment options may be right for you.