What Does a Gastroenterologist Do?
A stomach doctor or gastroenterologist performs several procedures for diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal diseases. Typically, a patient is referred to a gastroenterologist if their condition has gone beyond the capabilities of a primary physician. However, a gastroenterologist cannot perform any surgical procedure.
Instead, for treating the diseases, a gastroenterologist uses short-term or long-term medication. However, if a patient needs to get surgery done, the gastroenterologist may refer them to a gastrointestinal surgeon.
Education Needed to be a Gastroenterologist
Importantly, it takes ten or more years of profound training and education to become a gastroenterologist. Here is the usual path one has to get through to become a gastroenterologist in the U.S.
- Earning a Bachelor’s Degree: The first step to becoming a gastroenterologist is to get a four-year undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree. This primarily entails coursework like biology, physics, and chemistry, along with a semester of organic chemistry, psychology, literature, calculus, and statistics. One may also be required to study biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy.
- Tasking the MCAT: The next step is to take the Medical College Admission Test or MCAT, which is a computerized test consisting of multiple-choice questions.
- Getting a Medical Degree: Once you have passed the MCAT, you can progress to medical school and then get a general medical degree. At this point, you cannot get a degree in a particular specialty already.
- Attempting USMLE: After receiving your degree, you have to take Part One and Part Two of the US Medical Licensing Exam, which will provide you with the license to practice as a doctor.
- Residency: During the residency period, the focus is shifted from theoretical knowledge to practical work. After the residency, you can attempt part three of USMLE. If you pass the exam, you’ll become a licensed physician.
- Fellowship: A fellowship allows you to have intensive training in various gastrointestinal disorders. After you have completed a fellowship, you will receive a certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine. You will also have to obtain a certification in internal medicine and a gastroenterology certification before you finally become a gastroenterologist.
Specializations of a Gastroenterologist
A gastroenterologist can also specialize in the following areas:
- Pancreatic disease
- Endoscopic surveillance
- IBS and chronic digestive tract inflammation
- Reflux esophagitis
What Parts of the Body Does a Gastroenterologist Treat?
A stomach doctor treats the following parts of the digestive system:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
- Bile ducts
What Medical Conditions Can a Gastroenterologist Handle?
A stomach doctor specialist can diagnose and treat a wide array of medical conditions, including:
- Gallbladder Disease
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Anal Fissures
- Colon Polyps
- Celiac Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Gastrointestinal Cancer
- Peptic Ulcers
- Nutritional Issues
- Cramping, bloody stool, boating
What Medical Procedures Does a Gastroenterologist Perform
A gastroenterologist can perform a number of medical procedures. Some of them are:
- Colonoscopy: for detecting colon polyps or colon cancer.
- Gastroscopies: for detecting small intestinal, gastric, and esophageal diseases.
- Liver biopsies: for assessing fibrosis and liver inflammation.
- Endoscopic ultrasounds: for examining the gastrointestinal tract.
- Capsule endoscopies: for examining the small intestine.
- Sigmoidoscopies: for evaluating bowel pain and blood loss.
- Polypectomy: for removing polyps from the bowel lining.
- Esophageal dilation: for stretching a narrowed part of the esophagus.
- Feeding tube insertion: for instilling a feeding tube in the abdomen.