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Health Care Providers: Gastroenterologists

What Is Gastroenterology?

Gastroenterology (gas-troh-en-ter-OL-uh-jee) is the medical specialty that treats problems of the digestive system.

What Is a Gastroenterologist?

A gastroenterologist (gas-troh-en-ter-OL-uh-jist) is a doctor who studies, diagnoses, and treats diseases and conditions that affect the mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and intestines.

Why Would Someone Need One?

Gastroenterologists diagnose and treat many different problems, including: 

They do medical tests and procedures such as:

  • ultrasounds and X-rays of the stomach
  • blood tests and urine tests
  • endoscopy (using a flexible tube and camera to treat bleeding or take biopsies)
  • colonoscopy
  • foreign body removal
  • feeding tube placement
  • breath hydrogen testing (for lactose intolerance)

What Is Their Training?

Gastroenterologist training includes:

  • 4 years of pre-medical education at a college or university
  • 4 years of medical school — a medical degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree
  • 3 or more years in a pediatric or adult gastroenterology fellowship program. A “fellow” is a doctor who undergoes more specialty training after completing medical school and a residency.

Good to Know

Gastroenterologists often work with general pediatricians, dietitians, liver specialists, transplant specialists, and allergists.