What is a Gastroenterologist?

We are highly trained physicians, who after completing 4 years of Medical School, have done an additional 3 years of Internal Medicine training and another 2-4 years of Gastroenterology training.  We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases and liver disorders.  Common conditions that we see include esophagitis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, colon polyps and colon cancer.  We also treat patients with a variety of diseases affecting the liver, bile ducts and pancreas.

During our gastroenterology training period, we almost exclusively concentrate on gastrointestinal endoscopy: the insertion of flexible scopes into the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  By using endoscopy, we can see inside a patient's GI tract which greatly helps us in making an accurate diagnosis.  Endoscopy also allows us to perform therapeutic interventions such as removing colon polyps, treating bleeding ulcers, dilating esophageal strictures or removing stones from the bile ducts. 

Before we graduate, we have completed hundreds, if not thousands of colonoscopies, EGDs and other endoscopic procedures.  Other physicians (Surgeons, Family Practice) may use endoscopy as a very small part of their practice, but none will come close to having the endoscopic training and experience of a gastroenterologist.  Endoscopy is not a sideline for us but our lifeblood.


In order to stay current in our specialty, we devote many hours to reading journals and attending professional conferences and activities that concentrate on endoscopic innovation.  Moreover, we have initiated continuous quality improvement programs at both hospitals and the Surgery Center Cedar Rapids to insure the adequacy of colonoscopic examinations using nationwide standards for polyp detection and examination completion.  The net result is better care. 

As a patient, you have the right to ask your endoscopist the following questions: 1) how many endoscopies do they do per year? (a busy Gastroenterologist will do in excess of 1500-2000 endoscopies / year).
2) how many complications have they had? and,  3) what is their polyp detection rate?  As in all things, let the buyer beware.
  See article about Quality in Colonoscopy.

  
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