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Prepping for a Visit with a Gastroenterologist

Gastroenterology is a medical field that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the digestive system. Because some of the testing and treatments for this particular focus of medicine can be invasive, many people dismiss going for their initial visit out of fear. However, if you have been referred to a gastroenterologist for medical reasons, it is important you stick with your appointment and follow through with recommended treatments.

A gastroenterologist is a specialist who is often referred patients for a wide variety of internal medical issues including pain in the abdomen, bowel problems and obstructions, and rectal bleeding. They also are involved in the treatment of hepatitis, polyps and cancer of the colon, heartburn, ulcers, and diverticulitis among other things. Their focus is the diagnosis and treatment of medical issues affecting the digestive system but they do not perform necessary surgeries.

After you have been referred to the gastroenterologist by your regular physician, your initial visit may be a bit intimidating but it is an important first step to good health. The gastroenterologist will begin by having an in-depth discussion about your medical history including any specific problems or conditions you’ve had in the past. It will help to have a complete list of current prescriptions you are currently taking as well as vitamins and supplement dosages. Any details about past medical history should be jotted down so they are not forgotten.

Once a verbal discussion is complete, the gastroenterologist will likely conduct a physical examination. After that is completed, some additional tests may be recommended on the initial visit, depending on the issues you are currently experiencing. Some of these tests may include general blood work, x-rays, or ultrasounds. For some patients, a scope test may be necessary for proper and immediate diagnosis. If this is the case, the gastroenterologist will work with intravenous sedation in the office so you will not feel any discomfort. Scope testing is usually not something that will be done during an initial visit because patients undergoing sedation will need a companion to get them home. If scope testing is necessary, it likely will be conducted on subsequent visits.

A diagnosis and plan for treatment will be devised by the gastroenterologist on the initial visit or it may take multiple visits. Your regular physician will be involved and informed of the progress and treatment schedule by the gastroenterologist so you will still need to follow up with your doctor.

The diagnosis and treatment by a gastroenterologist can cause anxiety is some patients but it is very important that you follow through with the referral from your regular doctor. Medical conditions involving the digestive system can grow serious very quickly so it is best to seek treatment immediately as problems arise rather than face bigger medical (and financial) issues caused by waiting too long.


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