A gastroenterologist is a specialist in the digestive system. Gastroenterology is a specialty focused on preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system. This includes disorders of the appendix, esophagus, stomach, intestine, gall bladder, colon, rectum, bile ducts, pancreas and liver.
The digestive system includes the 25-foot-long tube that processes food and nutrients (known as the Alimentary Canal), plus the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. These organs break down and absorb the food we eat so that the nutrients can be transported into the bloodstream and delivered to cells throughout the body.
"Good" digestive health indicates an ability to process nutrients through properly functioning gastrointestinal organs, including the stomach, intestine, liver, pancreas and gallbladder. When these organs do not function properly, patients may need to see a gastroenterologist.
In addition to rare disorders of the digestive system, gastroenterologists diagnose or treat the following common conditions:
If you have any of these conditions, your primary care provider may refer you to a gastroenterologist.
Tests performed by our GI doctors:
Gastroenterologists use a number of techniques to view the organs of the digestive tract. The most common tests they perform are colonoscopy and upper-GI endoscopy.
Digestion is the process by which food and drink are broken down into smaller parts so that the body can use them to build and nourish cells, and to provide energy.
Each year, millions of Americans are diagnosed with digestive disorders, ranging from the occasional upset stomach to the more life-threatening colorectal cancer. They encompass disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
Most digestive diseases are very complex, with subtle symptoms, and the causes of many remain unknown. They may be inherited or develop from multiple factors such as stress, fatigue, diet, or smoking. Abusing alcohol imposes the greatest risk for digestive diseases.
Reaching a diagnosis requires a thorough and accurate medical history and physical examination. Some patients may need to undergo more extensive diagnostic evaluations, including lab tests, endoscopic procedures, and imaging techniques.
Colon cancer affects more than 140,000 Americans each year, yet is easily treatable when detected early. Learn more about when you should get screened for colon cancer.
Valley's Endoscopy program is recognized by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy's Quality Endoscopy Unit Recognition Program (ASGE EURP). The only national program of its kind, the ASGE EURP honors endoscopy units that show a commitment to patient safety and quality as reflected in their unit policies, credentialing, staff training and competency assessment, and quality improvement activities.
Learn more about how colorectal cancer screening saves lives
from Valley colorectal surgeon, Dr. Bernier.