What is a Gastroenterologist?
We are highly trained physicians, who after completing four years of medical school, complete an additional three years of Internal Medicine training and another two to four years of gastroenterology training. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases and liver disorders. Common conditions we treat 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.
Upon graduation, we have completed hundreds, if not thousands of colonoscopies, EGDs and other endoscopic procedures. Other physicians (surgeons, family medicine) 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.
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 Surgery Center Cedar Rapids to ensure the adequacy of colonoscopic examinations using nationwide standards for polyp detection and examination completion. These results in a higher result of care.
As a patient, you have the right to ask your endoscopist the following questions:
- What is their adenoma Detection Rate (ADR),
- What is their Cecal Intubation Rate and
- What is their Colon Withdraw Time?
Other questions include:
How many endoscopies do they do per year? (a busy Gastroenterologist will do in excess of 1500-2000 endoscopies / year) and how many complications have they had?