Gastroenterology is the medical specialty concerning the study of diseases and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract - including any of the parts of the gastrointestinal tract including the pancreas, gall bladder, bile duct, stomach, liver, large intestines and small intestines.
One characteristic of diagnosis in the field of gastroenterology is the need for extremely thorough patient history-taking. This is because it is believed that up to half of all gastrointestinal disorders are not indicated by anatomical changes, physical findings, or positive test results. The gastrointestinal medical interview generally covers areas such as description of the symptom itself, a history of previous gastrointestinal disorders or surgery, consideration of any symptoms that could imply the presence of organic disease (e.g. anaemia or weight loss) and usually also consideration of the patient's psychological and psychosocial state such as any traumatic events at about the time of the onset of the present and/or previous complaints. A family history may also be taken.
Examples of some of the issues and conditions studied and treated by specialists in gastroenterology include:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Gas and Bloating
- Abdominal Complaints
- Liver Disease, and
- Gastrointestinal Bleeding.
- A medical specialist in the field of gastroenterology is called a gastroenterologist.
Links to other relevant areas on this website include:
- Glossary section: General Medical Terms.