Some medical words can be hard to pronounce. A prime example: gastroenterology, the branch of medicine that focuses on the digestive tract. It’s easy to see why many people call it gastrologyby mistake.
Gastrology does have a medical definition: It’s the study of the stomach and stomach diseases. But it’s not a medical specialty in the United States today. The type of doctor you’d see for stomach problems is a gastroenterologist, not a gastrologist.
What Is a Gastroenterologist?
Gastroenterologists are doctors who are trained to diagnose and treat problems in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and liver. They have 5 to 6 years of specialized education after medical school. You may need to visit a gastroenterologist for health concerns with your:
- Esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach
- Small intestine
- Bile ducts
What Is a Gastrologist?
Technically, a gastrologist is someone who specializes in gastrology. That could mean caring for the stomach with medicine. It could also mean caring for the stomach with food.
Gastrology may have been a medical term in the early 1900s, judging by journals from around that time. If so, the word was long ago replaced by gastroenterology. You won’t find doctors who describe themselves as gastrologists today -- at least not in the U.S.
When to See a Gastroenterologist
There are many reasons you may visit a gastroenterologist. This is the type of doctor that performs routine colonoscopies, a test that looks at the inside of your colon. Your primary care doctor may also refer you to a gastroenterologist if you have problems with:
These could be minor health concerns or signs of a serious condition. Gastroenterologists have the tools and expertise to diagnose you correctly. A few of the diseases and conditions they manage include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Cancer of the esophagus
- Colon polyps that may turn into cancer