A Gastroenterologist is a physician with extensive training regarding the proper function and diseases of the gastrointestinal system. They are first trained as Internal Medicine physicians, then do extra training (called a fellowship) for two to three years in the diagnosis and treatment of problems with the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. A gastroenterologist learns all aspects of the function of these organs and becomes proficient in specialized test to evaluate for dysfunction. Upon completing fellowship, a comprehensive examination is undertaken by the physician. This test is administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine with emphasis in Gastroenterology. If passed, the physician is then called “Board Certified”.
Many types of physicians perform endoscopy of the gastrointestinal tract. These include gastroenterologists, surgeons, internal medicine and family medicine physicians. The thing that separates the gastroenterologist from these others is that instead of performing a few dozen procedures during training, the gastroenterologist performs hundreds, if not thousands, in a very formalized academic training environment. They are then able to be critically tested to show proficiency and thus become Board Certified in the field. Other physician specialists may become Board Certified in the broad areas of family medicine, internal medicine, or surgery, but not gastroenterology
Many people suffer from aliments of the gastrointestinal tract. Most of these diseases are found more quickly and assessed more fully though the use of endoscopy. In the past, before endoscopy, x-ray studies were relied upon to diagnose problems in the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. Unfortunately, theses x-ray tests were generally poor in finding the problems, and even if found, no therapy could be applied. Since the advent of endoscopic technology, many intestinal diseases are diagnosed earlier, and some can even be treated without invasive surgery.
The short answer is yes. Although all medical procedures carry some level of risk of complications, endoscopy has been proven to be very safe, with an overall low level of risk. Of course, this level depends greatly upon what procedure is being performed, your overall heath status, and the level of skill and/or training of the doctor doing your test. Before your endoscopy your doctor will review the risks of the procedure with you. This is not to make you uncomfortable or to scare you, but rather to inform you so that you can make an informed decision regarding the exam.
Most of the endoscopic procedures are performed after you have received some intravenous (IV) medication. This medicine is designed to remove your pre-procedure anxiety, and help with any discomfort caused by the procedure. The majority of patients do not remember much of their procedures, due to the fact that the IV medication also induces a relaxing sleep. This medication is not general anesthesia, but is sedation – to calm, provide sleep, and to ease discomfort.
At Southeast Idaho Gastroenterology we strive to provide you with the best GI care that you can get anywhere. We provide the overall same service and procedures that you would expect to get from a large educational institution, but in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere. The doctors and nurses participate in continuing education in GI and endoscopy. We also have ongoing quality studies in which we compare every aspect of the office and endoscopy center with regional and national benchmarks. It is our goal that we will be able to help you in solving your GI problems, and provide the best endoscopy exam that you can get anywhere.