8 Things You Should Know About Gastroenterologists, (But Probably Don’t)

Admit it: you may know very little about gastroenterologists beyond our role in your regular colonoscopy screening.

But there’s so much more to us than that.

Did you know that gastroenterologists are responsible for helping those with severe heartburn or GERD? Because gastroenterology is focused on the digestive organs, these expert physicians get to treat various parts of the body as opposed to those who specialize in one area, such as cardiologists.

We’ll look at some interesting facts about gastroenterologists that you may have overlooked and explain their role in keeping you healthy.

What Is a Gastroenterologist?

Gastroenterologists are physicians who specialize in treating diseases and conditions of the digestive system, from your esophagus to your colon.

What Does a Gastroenterologist Do?

These physicians help patients with a wide variety of problems, concentrating on organs that affect digestion, such as the liver and stomach. Gastroenterologists also treat patients for severe heartburn (GERD) and perform colonoscopies in order to check for colon cancer.

We’ll explore more about their role as we examine some interesting information about what gastroenterologists do.

8 Interesting Facts About Gastroenterologists

1. Gastroenterologists Specialize In the Entire Digestive System

From the esophagus to the colon, gastroenterologists specialize in treating diseases that can affect any part of the body along this pathway, including but not limited to the liver, stomach, colon and rectum.

2. They Specialize in Treating Those With Long-Term Problems

While gastroenterologists are always ready to help people with acute problems, many patients have long-term issues such as constant diarrhea, consistent heartburn and chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease, IBS and ulcerative colitis.

3. Gastroenterologists Can Detect – or Prevent — Different Types of Cancer

While most people think of a colon cancer screening when they hear about gastroenterology and cancer detection, there’s much more to the profession than that.

For example, those with chronic heartburn may be placed at greater risk for esophageal cancer. Gastroenterologists are quick to discover those who are at risk and prescribe a preventative plan of treatment that can save lives.

4. Gastroenterologists Treat More Than Just the Colon

While you may think of colon cancer screenings when you hear the term “gastroenterology,” there’s much more to this specialty than that.

Gastroenterologists must have a detailed understanding of everything from liver function to nutrient absorption.

In fact, their versatility enables them to diagnose and/or treat diseases such as:

  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Polyps of the colon
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Gallstones
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • GERD
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Cancer of the stomach, liver or colon
  • Hiatal hernia
  • IBS- irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Viral hepatitis

5. Gastroenterologists Make a Dramatic Difference in Nationwide Health

Did you know that an estimated 70 million Americans have some type of digestive disorder? This equates to 21 million hospitalizations and 48 million doctor visits annually, according to information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

It’s no wonder that gastroenterologists are such important members of your health care team.

6. Gastroenterologists Must Have a Fellowship After Medical School

In addition to getting their medical degree, a gastroenterologist must also complete a three-year residency in internal medicine. After this, they can begin their fellowship of extensive training to specialize in gastroenterology. Fellowships are usually two to three years long.

7. Some Gastroenterologists May Decide to Specialize Even Further

Some of these professionals may decide to delve further into a specialty by continuing their studies for another year. These can include hepatology (the liver) and proctology (the rectum and anus). Some gastroenterologists may choose to specialize in liver transplants.

8. They Are Experts at Utilizing The Latest Surgical Technology

Many procedures, such as an endoscopy or colonoscopy, depend upon the physician to skillfully maneuver a laparoscope—a thin, lighted tube equipped with a tiny camera. This let’s the physician clearly see the area to make an accurate diagnosis.

This is just one example of the techniques and state-of-the-art equipment utilized in order to treat a variety of conditions.

See Why We’re the Leading Gastroenterologists in Raleigh, the Triangle and Wilson

We are recognized as Centers of Excellence in several areas, including women’s health, liver disease, advanced GI therapeutics and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).

But beyond our medical expertise, we offer a compassionate, comprehensive treatment that enables us to be partners in your care.

Not only are we a state-certified endoscopy facility, but we’re also an independent medical practice with five primary office locations throughout Wake and Johnston counties. In addition, we also have a Wilson location — The Wilson Digestive Disease Center.

Our cost-effective screenings and other in-office and outpatient procedures have made us the provider of choice in the area.

We would welcome the opportunity to care for you. Please contact us for more information