What is gastroenterology?The Gastroenterologist deals with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and the surrounding organs.
As a technical term, gastroenterology derives from the Greek words γαστήρ, gastēr, dt "stomach" and έντερον, enteron, dt "intestine". It is dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and conservative treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract with the help of medication and / or physical measures.
The treatment spectrum of gastroenterology also includes the surrounding organs liver, gallbladder and pancreas. As a branch of internal medicine, gastroenterology can be further subdivided into a few specialties. For example, there are hepatology, proctology and gastrointestinal oncology. Hepatology deals with the physiology as well as pathology of the liver and biliary tract and is responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of these organs.
Proctology (also known as coloproctology or coloproctology) focuses on the diseases of the rectum. The focus of non-surgical (eg medical) treatment in this area of specialization is the colon, rectum and anal canal. The last mentioned Gastrointestinal Oncology deals with multidisciplinary curative and palliative therapy and is used for sonographic and endoscopic prevention examinations in persons at risk.
Treatments & Therapies
A wide range of treatments in gastroenterology allows early detection and treatment of various diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and the surrounding organs. An important task for gastroenterology is the diagnosis and therapy of tumors.
These include, for example, malignant tumors of the esophagus (esophageal carcinoma), which develop from the glandular cells of the mucosa (adenocarcinomas) or surface cells (squamous cell carcinomas). Also worth mentioning are malignant tumors in the region of the colon (colon carcinoma). They occur predominantly in the colon mucosa and emerge from the intestinal polyps. In Germany, they come in second place after breast cancer in women and lung cancer in men, and thus represent one of the greatest dangers to human health.
In addition to various tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, gastroenterology also deals with chronic inflammation. This includes, for example, appendicitis, which can occur suddenly at any age and is accompanied by severe pain in the lower abdomen. Also well known is the inflammation of the gastrointestinal mucosa, which is also referred to as gastritis (previously gastritis). Here are distinguished three types. Type A can be attributed to autoimmune processes. The most common type B is the result of a bacterial infection of the stomach with the germ Helicobacter pylori.
Type 3, on the other hand, is caused by external stress factors such as alcohol abuse or the use of certain medications. With regard to diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, the intestinal obstruction (ileus), which is due to mechanical and / or functional causes, should not be neglected because it can be life-threatening without early therapy and often surgical intervention. Cirrhosis of the liver, which is primarily caused in Germany by increased alcohol consumption and chronic hepatitis C, can also have serious health consequences.
A large group of disorders that are treated within gastroenterology also form the so-called dysfunctions. As an example, these are used for irritable bowel syndrome as well as functional dyspepsia. For several years now, gastroenterology has also increasingly focused on coughing with shortness of breath, which may refer to the reflux of gastric acid into the esophagus (reflux).
Diagnosis & Examination Methods
For the detection and treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and the surrounding organs, gastroenterology uses various diagnostic and examination methods. Gastroscopy (gastroscopy) and colonoscopy (colonoscopy) are considered predominant.
The first takes about 10 to 15 minutes and allows the gastroenterologist to use a special gastroscope to see the stomach, esophagus and duodenum. The second lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes and, thanks to a variable-flexibility video colonoscope, allows the entire colon and the junction of the small intestine to be examined in the large intestine. Both endoscopic examination methods are considered to be painless, if a little uncomfortable.
While the patients before the gastroscopy a local anesthetic sprayed in the throat or in acute cases, a sedative (sedoanalgesia) is administered, the colonoscopy requires a thorough bowel cleansing by means of a bowel cleanser and the prescriptive administration of sedoanalgesia. Another endoscopic method is the so-called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which can examine the bile or pancreatic duct and can be used for stone removal or fragmentation. In this context, patients are becoming increasingly interested in the so-called NOTES methods.
These are endoscopic operations through natural openings that are considered progress in laparoscopic surgery. In addition, the ultrasound is considered to be of major importance, with the use of ultramodern contrast ultrasound in addition to conventional sonography. This ensures a very accurate representation of the blood flow to the organs, which can be recorded and analyzed by computer. Similar to gastroscopy and colonoscopy, the ultrasound examination is painless. It also does not cause subsequent inconvenience.
Other diagnostic and diagnostic procedures in the field of gastroenterology include functional testing, including complex series of C13 and H2 breath tests. Thanks to this, for example, Helicobacter pylori can be detected. Is known, if appropriate, the capsule pH-metry, which is used for acid measurement over 48 hours in the esophagus and confirm or rule out the reflux disease (heartburn). Today, high-resolution manometry (HRM), which serves as an example of a new method for measuring gastric tract pressures, is also making a significant contribution.
Typical and common diseases of the digestive tract
- stomach ulcer
- Gastritis (gastritis)
- Abdominal influenza
- irritable stomach
- stomach cancer
- Crohn's disease (chronic intestinal inflammation)